Another San Francisco Disaster 

The Wedding Planner (PG-13)
Columbia/Screen Gems

The Wedding Planner remains true to the dictum that all movies set in San Francisco, since Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958), suck. To say that there is even a dash of screen chemistry between leading lady Jennifer Lopez (Mary Fiore) and her vacillating love interest Matthew McConaughey (Dr. Steve Edison) would be like calling the Bush/Gore election fair. The only cake that this far fetched tale of ill-timed love takes is the one that fell while it was still in the oven.

Mary is a career girl/wedding planer, about to leverage her way into a partner position at her company because she masterminds and conducts weddings as if they were military maneuvers. With her walkie-talkie ear-set and any trouble emergency pouch, Mary tackles problems of inebriated FOBs (father of the bride) gone MIA (missing in action) with a stiff mist of water and one of her signature pep talks. Mary knows that "love is just love," and she can dish out whatever amount of expert verbal lubricant is needed to move the product along. She lives in a perfectly appointed luxury apartment as a whiz-bang bachelorette until, one day, material appreciation for her Gucci shoes (heel stuck in manhole cover) conflicts with her survival sense.

A fully loaded trash dumpster rolls down a steep San Francisco hill right toward our lady of perpetual success whose only instinct is to stay and fight for the stuck shoe. Unsurprisingly, Dr. Steve sees the impending danger and body tackles Mary into an asphalt love assault that sends the story on its predictable course.

The love-struck duo share an obligatory perfect date in Golden Gate Park and Mary comes away with a smile she's powerless to wipe off until a few days later when she discovers that Dr. Steve is the fianc of her latest high profile client, Fran Donelly (Bridgette Wilson Sampras). But Mary's skies aren't all gray considering that her Italian dad Salvatore (Alex Rocco) has dug up a childhood neighbor of the family (Massimo, played by Justin Chambers) as a designated husband for his callipygous daughter.

It's established early on that sex will not be a component to this romantic comedy. The closest physical intimacy that Mary and Steve share, after their abrupt introduction, occurs when Steve rescues Mary from a runaway horse by pulling her onto his own horse so that she straddles him in a face-to-face position.

However the most telling comic sequence of romantic bonding between Mary and Steve happens when the two are strolling through a sculpture garden. Steve is making a point about the appropriateness of a nude stone warrior when he accidentally pushes the statue over, somehow breaking off its male genitalia. Mary jumps to the rescue with her trusty super glue as a park security officer approaches to upbraid Steve for touching the art. When Steve's hand becomes glued to the solid male apparatus more so than the broken stone is to the statue, Steve gets caught holding more than just the proverbial bag. The scene seems completely out of place in the story unless you view it as an accidental and ironic disclosure about something in Steve's sexual closet. It raises an obvious question about the lack of chemistry between Steve and the two women with whom he's caught in such a dramatic love triangle.

Like Mary's repeated point about the 14-month divorce expectancy of couples who choose Olivia Newton John's "I Honestly Love You" as their wedding song, Steve's occasional brushes with gay innuendo seem to predict a certain limited marriage life for Steve and the woman of his latest choice. No matter how you cut it, The Wedding Planner is an exercise in futility.


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