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The Wedding Planner

Here's a squandered opportunity. After a spate of contemporary Hollywood romantic comedies (in the mold of Rob Reiner's popular When Harry Met Sally), The Wedding Planner collars Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey for its star-crossed lovers tale. Yes, J. Lo, an aspiring Queen of Pop who fled a notorious New York nightclub shooting with then-boyfriend Puff Daddy, and Matt, who apparently is not above a bit of nude bongo-playing when at home in Texas (according to police reports, that is). But whatever fireworks we might expect between the Latina siren and Lone Star cowboy in The Wedding Planner are hopelessly diluted in a routine, and rather bland, love story. Lopez plays Mary Fiore, a San Francisco wedding planner who is so engrossed with her career that she has remained dateless for months on end — a fact that causes her Italian American father Salvatore to offer her hand in (arranged) marriage to Italian pretty-boy Massimo (Justin Chambers). But the modern Mary is not about to get married to a stranger — or is she? After a chance encounter with handsome pediatrician Steven James (McConaughey), she falls head over heels in love on the first date, only to learn that he's engaged to marry her biggest client, Francine Donolly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras). Will Maria marry Dr. Steve or her Italian suitor? Will Dr. Steve wed his bride-to-be, or abandon her at the last minute for the feisty Maria? Tune in next week — or just give up two hours of your life to witness filmmaking at its most completely predictable. Directed by veteran film choreographer Adam Shankman, The Wedding Planner is perfectly inoffensive light entertainment — which also happens to be the root of its problem. Both Lopez and McConaughey are charming — that's why they're movie stars, after all — but the script (by Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis) fails to engage the audience. Most of the "comedy" falls flat, and the characters never make an impression of the viewers, mostly because this is a "love at first sight" picture, where the two protagonists are prepared to throw caution to the wind on the basis of a chance meeting and an innocent date. Compare to When Harry Met Sally or You've Got Mail, which are about people who get to know each other over very long stretches of time before taking the plunge — and thus allow the audience to get to know them. But despite its ranking as a minor entry in the romantic-comedy genre, The Wedding Planner is sure to please fans of the form — just don't expect J. Lo to offer faux orgasms in the local coffee shop. Columbia TriStar's DVD release features a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with audio in either Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 Surround. Features include a commentary with director Shankman and writers Falk and Ellis, deleted scenes with commentary, two featurettes, cast notes, and a trailer gallery. Keep-case.

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