If this were still the nineties, the new Lifetime original movie Marry Me (starring Lucy Liu and premiering on December 12th at 9pm) would feature a protagonist who just can’t make up her mind between men even though it would be clear to the audience from the end of the first act exactly why everyone was wrong for her except for one. There’d be a wedding dress montage, some “bridezilla” scenes in a florist shoppe or cake tasting place, and a periphery character would be a harried wedding planner. But times have changed, and Marry Me isn’t your typical Lifetime movie: it is a fun and refreshing ride through one woman’s relationship(s), still holding out, but not just pining, for “happily ever after.”
In fact, it is a miniseries, telling the tale of Rae Carter (Liu) over two separate two hour chunks. Rae is a serious career woman– a social worker who helps find kids in the foster care system good homes– but she has dreams bigger than just sitting behind a desk. She’s an artist– or she was– or she wants to be. She isn’t entirely sure of how to compartmentalize that side of her, even though her doodles decorate her apartment and her desk at work.
But she’s a dreamer in a much bigger way, too: she’s a dreamer in the Disney princess sort of way. Rae wants to be in love and get married more than anything else. She wants romance; she wants spontaneity (but not so much that she won’t be able to settle down in the suburbs and have a family); she wants the fairytale. Unfortunately for her, when her boyfriend of two years (Bobby Cannavale) prepares a special evening, it is not a proposal but a celebration of a work grant for him. So he’s out.
Or is he?
Time goes by and Rae, urged on by a co-worker and friend (Danielle Nicolet), as well as her mother (Annie Potts), and even her priest to get back into the dating scene. Enter Luke (Steven Pasquale), who is perfect on paper and seemingly too good to be true in person. So too good to be true that Rae starts fearing the worst.
Rae’s indecisiveness throughout the movie is a modern-day phenomena in such chick flick romantic comedies, but it is a welcome breath of fresh air. Finally women are allowed to show off imperfections! And believe us, Rae has quite a few imperfections! But for someone growing up wanting the fairytale, that all just seems very natural and keeps what could be an over-the-top, unlikeable character very grounded and relatable. Rae doesn’t have the tools to recognize which is the solid, strong relationship that can last versus what looks good for the moment but will sure to be fleeting. Those fairytales are all big, loud, fast romances but who’s to say the couples continue past the end credits?
As if Rae’s feelings weren’t complicated enough, her ex comes back into the picture just as things are starting to get serious with Luke, and she finds herself emotionally torn between the two. And Luke’s live-in best friend (Enrique Murciano) admits feelings for her, as well and offers her an adventure that, while seeming out of character, may prove to be just the thing she needs.
The characters in Marry Me are all focused on who will Rae will choose, and their own problems, such as her sister’s maybe cheating husband and a troubled foster kid (Vanessa Marano) potentially being placed in detention until she ages out of the system, will just have to take a backseat in their lives and in this story. But Marry Me isn’t just a “Who will she choose/will they or won’t they?” tale: it is a tale of self-discovery for Rae and for women like Rae, as well.
Liu is a natural at warming an audience, so having her in the role makes it far less absurd that three men would propose to Rae all within just a few weeks. As an actor, she is adept at finding chemistry with anyone she is opposite, but here it truly shines with Murciano in a flirty, easy way. Their characters may seem like polar opposites at first, but he brings out an extra fun side to her that she seemed to be reluctant to relinquish control of earlier and with the other guys.
That is not to say that Cannavale and Pasquale are not equally charming in their own ways. Cannavale’s big eyes make him more vulnerable than the others, and you find yourself just wanting to mother him. But does mothering make a relationship? Pasquale is a fast-talker but without all of the smarm; he is the smart, studious, slightly smirky type who should be the most obvious match for Rae and her own serious sense of wit. The scene in which they first meet each other may not be the perfect first date story one would want to right a fairytale around, but it is snarky and sharp and one of the best played scenes in the whole film.
The supporting cast is just as strong in Marry Me. Never one to stray from the mold of a precocious teenager, Marano makes a surprisingly charming (and capable) sidekick that never once distracts from Rae’s journey. Picking up where Scoundrels left off, Marano is showing off her maturity and subdued and more mature nature. And for that we will forgive the slight jab at her former project Gilmore Girls within this movie.
Potts is a go-to for comedic relief but also words of wisdom, but it is Nicolet who steals scenes with subtle eye movements and facial expressions. She isn’t your typical “plucky best friend” in Marry Me, though she is most definitely someone you’d want in your corner– or your film. Here’s to a sequel with her at the center! Hey you never know: the way Marry Me ends there is definitely potential to pair her character up with one– or two– of Rae’s rejects.
Marry Me premieres on Lifetime on December 12th at 9pm and concludes on December 13th at 9pm. The first part leaves with a definite cliffhanger, so you’re for sure going to want to DVR both parts!
From our advance review, who do you think Rae will choose to marry? Or do you think she’ll pull a Sue Sylvester by way of Carrie Bradshaw and just marry herself? Sound off in the comments below!