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Review: Marry Me is Schrödinger’s Romcom

It’s at times like these that my mind wanders to Schrödinger’s Cat. Writers love to meme a scientific concept out of all recognition. Exhibit A being Chekhov’s Gun (guilty as charged for making a 19th Century playwright responsible for every recurring motif to get a cheap laugh). Schrödinger developed a complex thought experiment about quantum superposition. It would take my entire word count to adequately explain the theory (and my reluctance has absolutely nothing to do with basic stupidity). Briefly (but with extra flair): Schrödinger’s Cat concerns a poor, defenceless hypothetical cat shoved in a box, microscopic amounts of radiation and whether observing said cat determines whether it’s alive or dead. I am extremely interested in bastardising Schrödinger ‘s theory to make a point, so was disappointed to discover that there’s already an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to using the catboxdeath? concept in popular culture. Some want to make the experiment less hypothetical (not a fan of cat murder), others ‘Yes anded’ the principle giving us Schrödinger’s human, dog and whale (who wouldn’t be a fan of a giant hypothetical whale in a box?). If you’ve made it this far and forgotten the title of this article then Surprise! I wish to apply Schrödinger’s theory to Marry Me.

Does a movie exist because it is being observed? And does the act of observation keep the movie alive when it should be dead? I ask because this film confounds everything I know about cinema. Many reviews of Marry Me are available to read (summary: most aren’t positive). My contribution to the hefty canon is thus: Marry Me is Schrödinger’s Romcom. It’s a meta-construction of light and sound resembling the silhouette of a romantic comedy. I did not come to this conclusion lightly. The experimental conditions involved watching Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson get it on at a packed IMAX screening. As the leads’ faces loomed, music swelled and electricity coursed through the crowd, I had an out-of-body experience. For a moment, I floated in liminal space, watching my body laugh and shovel popcorn. I wondered ‘is this enjoyable?’ then, ‘is this a film?’. Once back in physical form, I concluded that yes, I was having a fun collective experience watching a film. This cat was alive! Or was it?

The type of film that makes it to the big screen in a post-Covid world has changed. Today’s chosen movies consume consciousness. They hyper-stimulate with increasingly unrealistic stories about preternatural human shapes. It wouldn’t shock me to discover that scientists built Marry Me in a lab. I readily accepted a nonsensical plot told through an Instagram/TikTok filter. The film seems to pitch the real(?) Lopez falling for a fictional one-dimensional maths teacher cypher who looks like Wilson. Or to put it mathematically, it’s the cinematic equivalent of a simple equation:

Conceit + cute kids + overcoming simulated stakes = happy ending.

This is not an indictment of Marry Me. It’s a statement that what gets a cinematic release is no longer reflective of the medium at large. Instead, it’s what we think the medium should be. Releases are now reduced to the simplest stimulus and response. Character arcs don’t resemble a reverse bell curve, but an exaggerated lightning bolt. Storytellers are too quick to move straight to the endorphin hit, leaving no room for the purer bliss that comes from seeing character growth.

I believe that the rom-com genre is sacrosanct. A heart-warming concoction of funny and moving circumstances bringing two adorable characters together. The best romcoms are magical, the worst still do the job. No rom-com should act as the forum for an existential crisis about cinema. Yet Schrödinger’s Romcom does just that. I urge studios to stop trying so hard to meet a dictionary definition and start making romantic, comedic films that speak to the audience on a basic human level. Romcoms are pure alchemy, not mathematics.

Marry Me is not a bad film. It might not be a film at all.

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  1. Wow. It’s not often that a review is more enjoyable than the film, but I’m pretty confident that, without having seen it yet, that’s the case here!

    I’m probably going to watch it anyway… it’s such a batsh*t idea that it must be vaguely fun. Plus, Sarah Silverman.

    In any case, thanks for a great read (-:

    • Thank you! Please let us know what you think if you do see it. It is batshit crazy!

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