The Gay Best Friend Is A Girl In This One: A Review of Marry Me

In the current social climate, the story of Marry Me is delightfully far-fetched and yet so believable that it comes off as a little scary.

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The film manages to be refreshing even in light of the reality check it offers; it flips old rom-com tropes, for a new, refreshing result. I will try to keep this review spoiler-free, because I am so excited for all of you to watch it.

The best new spin on the genre is, without a doubt, Owen Wilson’s character, Charlie. Charlie fulfills the place that Drew Barrymore filled in Music and Lyrics, the place that Jennifer Lopez’s character filled in Maid In Manhattan, and countless other women have filled in the role of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl that Marries a Famous Man. Charlie is this character; left feeling like he’s boring and not fun after a divorce and the remarriage of his ex-wife, his daughter’s adoration of her new step-father leaves him especially lost. This relationship was especially touching. The role of the father is ever-present with Charlie, and his love for his daughter (as well as a last minute invitation from his Lesbian Friend, played by the marvelous Sarah Silverman) is what brings him to the concert where he holds the sign that kicks off the whole wacky adventure in the first place.

In addition to the refreshing manic pixie dream boy aspect, the sassy gay friend in this film is a girl! And she feels representative of a queer woman! While not played by a queer person, this character still rings true and doesn’t feel forced. She is not overtly butch, or femme; instead she is a female character created with the wlw (women loving women) gaze in mind. The male gaze, and classic fetishization of lesbian relationships, was not present in the design of his character. As a member of the queer community myself, I thought that this was incredibly refreshing, and I felt respected, instead of condescended to, by this character. She is in sharp relief to Kat Valdez, played by the incomparable Jennifer Lopez, who is a pop star in full sexy glamour. You couldn’t have sold me the idea she was anything other than straight as a ruler, but both women are presented as behaving in relatable ways, dealing with relatable obstacles, and wanting very relatable things in life.

As I casually mentioned Maid In Manhattan before, it is only fair that I now mention that with Kat Valdez, Jennifer Lopez has come full circle. She is at the height of her power, and ownership of herself in this role. Kat is magnificent, and yet, quietly tragic in a way. She is plagued by a past that threatens to catch up with her present at the very moment when she needs compassion and privacy the most. The thing about Kat Valdez’s character, and her story, is that it is so incredibly affected by social media. So many of these rom-coms that are old favorites for millennials are laughed at now, because “that would never happen in the age of social media.” This film proves that to be categorically false, and even includes the immediacy of a scandal’s reach in a major plot point. The previews don’t lie about how quickly it all goes down; She’s dressed and ready to perform, and in the time it takes her to get from the dressing area to her entrance on to the stage, the world knows she’s been cheated on. Instantaneous, hurtful, and shocking. The rest of the film structures around creating a social media narrative that endeavors to make Kat look not-so-crazy after her multiple marriages and very public pain. I noted upon watching that this story shows a lack of consent; some people volunteer to be present with their whole story on social media. Kat, and countless of her real world counterparts, did not consent.

As an unexpected, real-life mirror to the plot of this film, if any of this sounds fake to you, Kanye West’s public outcry for violence against Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian should rob the plot of this movie of any mysticism, romanticism, and illusion that “it could never happen.” Even without the unexpected, and well-timed reality check from America’s most famous train wreck, the fact that the real villain of the movie is social media, and the increasingly watchful eye of anyone with a smartphone, is brilliant. The fact that the famous person looking for love and wanting a few moments of peace is a woman, makes the story even more apropos.

Enjoy Marry Me for what it is, a fun rom-com with pretty people with complicated lives, or take it as a lesson we all need to learn. Nobody, but especially women, exist for public consumption. Begging for privacy is out; in 2022, let’s leave the Kat Valdez-like figures to experience pain, love, joy, and whatever else they want, in the level of privacy they consent to.

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