Tag Archives: Jennifer Lopez

Wedding Bell Blues

Marry Me

by Hope Madden

Just two short years ago we thought Jennifer Lopez had a good shot at an Oscar nomination for her layered turn as stripper entrepreneur Ramona in Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers. Would she, like Ben Affleck, build on that success with more complex, emotionally satisfying supporting roles? Or would she make Marry Me?


Marry Me is a Jennifer Lopez movie from the word go. Actually, director Kat Coiro’s film is even more of a JLo movie than her other countless rom coms about a wildly beautiful but down-to-earth woman who’s just a romantic at heart.

Marry Me wraps a set of music videos around a peek into the world of a globally successful if under-respected musical diva who gets married a lot. So, it’s about as meta as the latest Scream.

Lopez’s character name is Kat Valdez, and Kat’s new single “Marry Me” is a tribute to her love with fellow musical phenom Bastian (Maluma). They will be wed onstage in front of a sold-out NYC crowd and streamed for tens of millions of people around the globe.

Until she doesn’t. She picks some kid’s dad (Owen Wilson) out of the audience and marries him instead.

Premise Beach!

As idiotic and contrived as that sounds—and as the trailer made it look–Marry Me delivers some charm. That has very little to do with the plot or its obvious trajectory, and it doesn’t really have much to do with the chemistry between Lopez and Wilson (which is lacking, honestly).

Harper Dill and John Rogers’s screenplay, based on Bobby Crosby’s graphic novel, pulls you in by treading on Lopez’s public persona. Well-placed Jimmy Fallon cameos create a sense of what it must be like to live, succeed and fail so very publicly. Compare this to Charlie (Wilson) and his hum-drum life of a math teacher, and the two-different-worlds romance is set.

Lopez’s acting is as superficial as the film requires. Wilson delivers a performance as characteristically quirky and goofy as expected. (Though he never once says wow, and let’s be honest, this character would say wow.)

Supporting turns from Sarah Silverman, Chloe Coleman and John Bradley help overcome a sparsity of laughter.

Is Marry Me an opportunistic music video/hit single/Valentine’s Day date bundle orchestrated by a savvy business mogul? It is. And it’s fine. Plus, if it goes well, maybe she’ll take on another really good character next time.

She-Wolves of Wall Street


by George Wolf

“You don’t have to believe me. I’m used to people not believing me.”

“Destiny” (Constance Wu) is telling her tale to Elizabeth (Julia Stiles), a writer in the midst of a story on a gang of high-end strippers who were busted for drugging clients and fleecing them for thousands.

The disclaimer is a clear yet-not-overbearing sign that our window into the world of Hustlers may not necessarily be the most clear and reliable. It’s one of many wise choices made by writer/director Lorene Scafaria in her adaptation of Jessica Pressler’s article on “The Hustlers at Scores.”

Wu is terrific as the naive newbie, overshadowed only by a completely magnetic Jennifer Lopez as Ramona, the stripping legend who teaches Destiny (and by extension, us) the ropes of spotting the highest-rolling Wall St. d-bags to milk for all they can.

But when the crash hits in ’08, times get tough for everybody, and it isn’t hard to justify hatching a plan to swindle the swindlers.

Scafaria ((Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Meddler) is not shy about the Scorsese influences, and seeing Will Ferrell and Adam McKay as executive producers makes The Big Short-syled humor all the more understandable.

No matter. This is still a supremely assured vision from Scafaria, cleverly constructed with visual flair, solid laughs, a sizzling pace and some truly memorable sequences.

One of the many great soundtrack choices comes right out of the gate, as Scafaria sets the stakes with Janet Jackson’s spoken-word opening to “Control.”

Who’s got it? Who doesn’t? And who’s badass enough to go get it?

It’s a wild, intoxicating high of girl power. And when it all comes crashing down, the moral ambiguities are scattered like dollar bills under the pole. As Ramona is quick to remind us, if there’s money being thrown, there will always be people ready to dance.

JLo Goes Low

Second Act

by Brandon Thomas

1998 was a good year to be a fan of Jennifer Lopez. She had just come off of a great turn as Selena Quintanilla in Selena, and her performance as Karen Sisco in Out of Sight made even more people stand up and take notice. Unfortunately, in the following years, movies like The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan and Gigli showed that the promise of 1998 was an outlier. Second Act continues that storied tradition of mediocrity.

On the surface, life looks pretty good for Maya (Lopez). She has a job she excels at and enjoys; has a great partner (Milo Ventimiglia); and is surrounded by supportive family and friends. After she’s passed over for a promotion due to her lack of a college education, Maya’s confidence in her life choices start to crumble. When her genius nephew spruces up her resume with a few white lies, Maya lands an opportunity that allows her to use her natural skills, but also forces her to pretend to be someone she’s not.

Second Act is a confusing mix of several different kinds of comedies. There’s the romance straight out of the romantic comedy, pratfalls and potty humor from the Apatow camp, and a gee-whiz camaraderie angle that left me wondering if magic pants were about to come into play.

None of these approaches works.

Lopez is completely out of her element with the physical comedy. She sells tripping over a barrier about as convincingly as Denise Richards did playing a nuclear physicist in The World Is Not Enough. Not helping is her complete lack of comedic chemistry with co-stars Leah Remini, Treat Williams and Dave Foley. When the top comedic performance of the movie is delivered by Charlyne Yi… there’s a problem.

The film’s entire structure is supported by the worst kind of cliches: Maya’s lie and the hoops she has to jump through to keep the lie alive; the workplace competition that was tired in 2013 when The Internship did it; and a lazy second act reveal so bad it’d feel out of place in a Hallmark Christmas movie. Second Act is a Frankenstein’s monster of plot points from already terrible movies.

This is a movie that your mom who sees one movie a year will probably love. For the rest of us, it’s the worst movie of 2002 that somehow got released in 2018.

Cleaning Up the Streets

Lila & Eve

by George Wolf

Two things land Lila & Eve on the big screen: one great lead, and one big twist in the script. Okay, maybe one and and a half things, because without Viola Davis, this is next week’s episode of CSI: Some Big City.

Davis, truly one of the most gifted actors around, plays Lila, a single mother who loses her oldest son to stray bullets from a drive-by shooting. Struggling to cope, she joins the “Mothers of Young Angels” support group, where she meets Eve (Jennifer Lopez), who has lost a daughter.

Eve doesn’t really have much use for the group’s advice, and both women are distressed at how little interest the authorities seem to have in helping them.

So, they hit the streets, determined to do whatever it takes to uncover the lead their local detective (Shea Whigham) says he needs to move forward.

The script is the debut for writer Pat Gilfillan, which is a fairly evident. There’s nothing original or seasoned at work here, as Lila & Eve is just a mashup of Jodie Foster’s The Brave One and another title I won’t mention for fear of spoilers.

But really, that will only save you about the first twenty minutes or so, until the breadcrumbs to where the film is going start to glow like a bright neon exit sign. Director Charles Stone III (Drumline) sets an early pace that’s too rushed, leaving the ladies’ choice for vigilantism unconvincing, and the racial aspect of legal foot-dragging overly played. He slows down during the big reveal to let the drama resonate, but instead provokes an eye rolling disbelief at the notion we’ve been caught by surprise.

It’s no surprise that Davis elevates the material. Lila’s grief and desperation both ring true, as does the delicate flirting with her neighbor Ben (Julius Tennon, Davis’s real-life husband). Lopez is passable, though she’s more naturally hamstrung by the weaknesses in script and direction, and has trouble moving Eve beyond a standard generalization.

We’ve seen this movie before, almost note for note. There’s only so much that one superior performance can do, and Davis’s can’t save Lila & Eve.






Kinder, Gentler Alien Invasion


by Hope Madden

Home – DreamWorks’ latest animated adventure – is the genuinely sweet tale of an alien invasion of earth. Little bubble-driving cowards called Boovs, fleeing their arch enemies the Gorgs, take over Earth, moving the entire human population to Australia. Boovs are a proud collection of conformists, which is why lonesome and blunder-prone Oh (Jim Parsons) is an outcast and, eventually, a fugitive.

He and New York’s last Earthling Tip (Rhianna) reluctantly team up to evade the Boov military and find Tip’s mom (Jennifer Lopez). (This is particularly funny because, in the Adam Rex book on which the film is based, the character Oh is goes instead by the name J.Lo.)

It’s a fish out of water buddy comedy brimming with lessons on bravery and letting your freak flag fly (or not being afraid to be you), which means it resembles about 45% of our current animated output. Still, director Tim Johnson’s the animator behind the nonconformity classic Antz as well as the genius Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode Homer Cubed. Does that mean we can at least hope for some inspired comedy?

Inspired is a strong word.

Like his inescapable TV persona, Parsons is adorably geeky, and Rhianna delivers the required goods as the spunky tween protagonist. Steve Martin also hams it up enjoyably as the Boov’s inept leader Captain Smek.

There are more than a few laughs, and though most of the sight gags are aimed at parents, the entire film is tender and wholesome enough for the very young. And though the 3D is often superfluous, the animation is really gorgeous. Still, there’s nothing new to see here.

If you’re in the market for a film that offers your wee ones positive examples aplenty – girl power, anti-colonialism, nonconformist messages among many, many others – this movie hits every mark, although it does so in a way that won’t leave a big impression. Even if you’re looking for an inoffensive time waster, Home fits that bill. Think of it as a colorful, sweet, blandly likeable 94 minutes worth of teachable moments.