Astringently chaste and morbidly fixated on marriage as inexorable endgame for the white and affluent, The Wedding Planner achieves the dubious but perversely impressive feat, for its 90-minute duration, of neutering Jennifer Lopez. She plays a manic, friendless career girl too busy arranging other people’s weddings to snare a husband of her own—her solitude is sketched with a home-alone sequence purloined from The Cell (though this version tragically edits out the doobie and the gratuitous bending to pet kitty and reach for snacks). Things start looking up when Matthew McConaughey saves her from a runaway dumpster and the blissed-out pair almost kiss, but turns out Matthew is engaged to one of Jennifer’s clients (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras). Crushed and desperate, Jen lets her creepy old-world Italian dad (Alex Rocco) nudge her toward a virtual arranged marriage—call Edith Wharton!—with a callow, obnoxious dimwit (Justin Chambers) from the old country. Her destiny as a mail-order bride keeps getting interrupted, however, by McConaughey rescue missions. The script has him scooping her up in his arms at the slightest provocation: fainting spells, crazed horses, benders.
The usual rom-com narcissism gets slowed up by our infantile heroine’s relentless bad luck and depressed resignation to spinsterhood, though Wilson’s whippet-thin thoroughbred gets a few stunning what-a-girl-wants punchlines. (On her wedding day, she gets tough with herself: “I haven’t thought about what I want in so long.”) McConaughey is insufferably smug as always, while the bewilderingly miscast Diva appears bored and impatient. The closing credits blast her single “My Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” pointing up The Wedding Planner as an interminable study in cognitive dissonance: J. Lo buttoned down, celibate, and making moon eyes at the guy from Contact.