(director: Adam Shankman; screenwriters: Pamela Falk/ Michael Ellis; cinematographer: Julio Macat; editor: Lisa Zeno Churgin; cast: Jennifer Lopez (Mary Fiore), Matthew McConaughey (Steve Edison), Bridgette Wilson-Sampras (Fran Donolly), Justin Chambers (Massimo), Judy Greer (Penny), Alex Rocco (Salvatore), Fred Willard (Basil St. Mosely), Charles Kimbrough (Mr. Donolly), Joanna Gleason (Mrs. Donolly), Kathy Najimy (Geri); Runtime: 102; A Sony Pictures Entertainment release; 2001)

“It’s a modestly successful romantic comedy, much like those old-fashioned fluff films of yesterday.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Wedding Planner is a romantic comedy cut from the same cloth of the Hollywood studio zany comedies of the ’50s. It reminded me most of “The Father of the Bride” only it didn’t have Spencer Tracy’s assurances that everything would turn out OK. The film looked real good for the first 70 minutes and then slid into a tedium and finally into a contrived ending that imitated “The Graduate.”

Jennifer Lopez is Mary Fiore, she’s the workaholic wedding planner, someone who hasn’t had a date in six years.When Mary gets her Gucci shoe stuck in a sewer hole in the streets of San Francisco and a hunk by the name of Steve Edison (McConaughey) rescues her from being crushed by a runaway dumpster. She looks at him and he looks at her, and it’s love at first sight.

Steve turns out to be a pediatrician. Mary’s assistant with the rolling eyes and high sqeaky voice, the loopy Penny (Judy Greer), senses romantic sparks in the air when seeing the two together, she arranges a date for them in Golden Gate Park. This is an amazing park because besides having an amusement ride and an outdoor dance floor, it screens movies and on their two visits to the park they watch rarely seen Hollywood musicals: Two Tickets to Broadway (1951, with Janet Leigh, Tony Martin, and Gloria De Haven) and Flirtation Walk (1934, with Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler).

On the dance floor, only a rain storm stops them from kissing.

Mary has talked her conniving boss Geri (Kathy Najimy) into giving her a partnership if she can snag the account of the soon-to-be bride, Fran Donolly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras). Her family is extremely wealthy from their high-tech business and are willing to spend a small fortune on the wedding. Mary has worked her way into being one of the best planners in the business due to her diligence in planning the perfect wedding. The surprise comes after happily landing this big account, but learning that Steve is the sexy guy Fran is going to wed.

The film’s inane subplot wasn’t particularly funny or believable. Mary’s heavily foreign accented, doting, Italian immigrant, widowed dad, Salvatore (Alex Rocco), foists Mary’s childhood playmate, Massimo (Justin Chambers), on her and lets it be known that they are engaged. Massimo is a manipulative clod with a penchant for saying and doing the wrong thing, and is someone she never liked even though he’s not bad looking.

Upon the introduction of Massimo into the story, the film loses its energy. For someone who is billed as a control freak such as Mary, there is no way she would not have put a damper on the relationship instantly. But since she doesn’t and the chilly Fran shows only friendship for Steve and no love — we are forewarned of what will happen to their intended wedding plans. Only, first-time director Adam Shankman builds the tension up to ridiculous proportions by having both couples getting married to the wrong person at the same time — Fran’s in the park, Mary’s in city hall. But there should be no surprise how everything is resolved.

It’s a modestly successful romantic comedy, much like those old-fashioned fluff films of yesterday. It’s ready-made for an audience that applauds when two people who are meant for each other, wind up with each other no matter what. Hollywood loves churning out stories like that because they’re good box office and have mass appeal. This is one of those films and if that’s your poison, be my guest, you won’t be disappointed. The two stars are glamorous, with Jennifer and Matthew throwing some PG-13 heat onto the screen. The film’s big joke is when Jennifer is told she has a big neck, an obvious reference to Jay Leno’s running gag about her big derriĆ©re.

The Wedding Planner Poster