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The Wedding Planner

Starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey; Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Alex Rocco, Justin Chambers
Screenplay by Pamela Falk & Michael Ellis
Directed by Adam Shankman
website: www.sony.com/theweddingplanner

IN SHORT: A kill-time dateflick. [Rated PG-13 for Strong Language and Some Sexual Humor. 100 minutes]

Love, as we learn from the steely, militarily-like precision with which Wedding Planner Mary Fiore (Jennifer Lopez) carries out her duties, truly does not cost a thing. It costs lots of things. Hundreds if not thousands of things, depending on the budgetary constraints, or lack thereof, on the part of the parental units footing the bill. Being the light romantic comedy that it is, The Wedding Planner never mentions numerical amounts, though we are tempted with the idea that the commission of the wedding at the center of the story, is more than what Mary's assistant Penny (Judy Greer) makes in a year.

This is what we know from the television commercial: Mary was saved from certain disaster by the pearly white bearing, blonde haired Doctor Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey) who just so happens to be the groom in the mega-bucks wedding she is planning. So... having seen this kind of gimmick about fourteen quadzillion times before, it just becomes a matter of plot twist and turn to get the mismatched couple happily paired off before violins play and an animated "the end" curlicues across the darkened screen.

What isn't there is The Gimmick: this wedding planner, who has all the right words for every bride or groom that gets last minute jitters, has a love life akin to the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Mary hasn't had a date in two years. Penny, who has been trying to fix up her boss, is usually shot down in her efforts. Only the Hand Of Fate can bring Love At First Sight. That would be the aforementioned Doctor Steve, who takes saves Mary's life, takes her to an outdoor movie (at Penny's insistence) where they dance, out of time and step, to the musical being shown on the big screen.

Wait. It gets cuter.

Mary's latest assignment is the talk of San Fran wedding of Internet Specialty Foods magnate Fran Donolly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) who has promised that she will get Mary married to her mystery man in three months. Neither one of 'em know that said Doctor Mystery Man is also Fran's fiancee (and Wilson-Sampras gets the best jokes in the script when her character learns only part of the underlying story). Fran has sworn to get Mary married to her Mystery Man in three months.

Wait. It gets cuter.

Unbeknownst to our hero, her dad Salvatore (Alex Rocco) has pledged her hand to a cute young hunk of the Old Country, that would be Sicily, an immigrant named Massimo (Justin Chambers). Massimo appears in our tale only at the most inopportune moments, meaning whenever the story needs a kick in the chops, to provide tired comic relief with his mangling of American customs and of the English language.

The Wedding Planner layers on "cute" with a bulldozer, with appeal mainly to friends of ours whose little hearts would be going all flippy flappy at its perfect 1930s style romantic comedy rendering of the wacky road to True Love. This is the kind of movie that the women whom we hooked up with were embarrassed to admit they liked. We were thankful that a chemistry between stars Lopez and McConaughey was not lacking -- though it took a real long time to become apparent.

Normally, we expect good performances out of professional actors, which is why we don't do heavy duty analysis of those things. The Wedding Planner is an exception, and we lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of first time director Adam Shankman, whose previous career as a choreographer isn't well represented in the film's two dance numbers, either. If he had paid closer attention he would have noticed that Alex Rocco's accent comes and goes. Matthew McConaughey literally walks through his part. The only actor trying to do a decent job is Jennifer Lopez, who also manages to get a song into the soundtrack. Lopez does a fairly decent job.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Wedding Planner, he would have paid . . .

$2.00

That's midweek rental cost but, honestly, unless you've got to kill a Saturday night on an unexciting date, there's almost no reason to waste your cash on this loser of a flick.

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