27 Jul

The Wedding Planner

“Why did Steve go to the movies with you? Well, first of all, Steve likes the movies. Steve had the night off. Steve said, ‘Hey, a movie sounds good,’ plus he got an invitation.”

– Steve

The Setup

As you may or may not know, two Munch members are tying the knot this week (and the other is the Best Man!). We thought it would be fun to do a trial run of sorts of the wedding menu. We didn’t make everything on it – we’ll leave that to Skillet this Friday – but we did make a dish from each course and both of our signature wedding cocktails.

With the menu set, we just needed to find a suitable movie to go with it. There are a multitude of romantic comedies that revolve around a wedding, but with weddings being a core professional character trait for the lead in The Wedding Planner, we thought it would provide an interesting look into the act of actually putting together a wedding, something Leanna and André have been attempting over the last few months. Planning a wedding is frustrating, stressful, and so incredibly difficult to do (especially if it’s not your full-time job!), but despite all that, the reason for all the trouble is to celebrate love, and that’s a really special thing.

The Wedding Planner also comes at an interesting time in both of the lives of the main characters. Matthew McConaughey was in the middle of a battle between accepting cookie cutter roles in rom coms while actually wanting to have a big name known more for action films. For Jennifer Lopez, this is probably the beginning of the end of her acting career in a lot of ways. She still had Maid in Manhattan, but you can just feel when someone is reaching the peak in their career.

Lastly, Munch chronicles our lives in many ways. Each post is packed with memories and serves as a unique snapshot into a moment in our lives. With the wedding approaching, it seemed fitting to find a way to work such major life event into our defacto journal.

The Food

We started things off with some grilled corn on the cob because nothing says summer dining like grilled corn on the cob. We mixed together olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, lime juice, cumin, and some hot pepper sauce while the grill was heating up. As the ears of corn cooked on the grill, we periodically brushed some of the parmesan mixture over the corn. The end result was some fantastically juicy and sweet corn with just the right amount of salty, cheesy, spicy flavoring to make it a stand out starter dish.

Moving on to the main course, we attempted Skillet’s signature burger complete with homemade bacon jam. While we didn’t use their recipe, we felt like the one we found which was inspired by their jam really held its own (and we’ve been spreading the leftovers on just about anything we can ever since). Bacon jam basically involves frying up a lot of bacon, letting it simmer with a mixture of coffee, garlic, onions, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and maple syrup, and then blending it all up in a food processor. Relatively simple, and delicious.

For the rest of the burger, we used some toasted brioche buns from Macrina Bakery and burger patties from Rain Shadow Meats. We topped the burgers with arugula and brie blue cheese. These burgers were heavenly. We all agreed that we would have to get them on the day of the wedding to compare. These burgers were fairly simple, but quality ingredients like meat and buns from top notch local experts really make a difference. Not to mention the sweetness of the jam does a wonderful job complimenting the bitter arugula and distinct blue cheese flavors.

We finished off our meal with a miniature version of the wedding cake (the full size version will be from the Dahlia Bakery). The cake is composed of three layers of vanilla bean cake held together with vanilla mascarpone and marionberry preserves and covered in lemon buttercream frosting. The flavors are all so light and complementary making it the perfect way to close out a delicious summer meal. Ours looked pretty amazing as well.

The Drinks

We wanted to develop some signature cocktails for the night, and we immediately knew where to start since Leanna and André have two go-to cocktails already: for her, Moscow Mules, and for him, an Old Fashioned.

We tried a couple of different varieties for the Moscow Mule, but settled on a strawberry watermelon basil rendition. We muddled some fresh strawberries and basil, mixed it with some lime juice and vodka, and topped it off with strawberry watermelon ginger beer from RGB.

We didn’t stray very far from a classic Old Fashioned. It isn’t a flashy drink, it’s just sugar, water, and whiskey. The drink is awesome or awful depending on the quality of those ingredients, so we took it upon ourselves to get the best ingredients possible. We used a high quality demerara sugar and Old Overholt Rye for the drink, garnished with bordeaux cherries and a little bit of orange peel. A tasty drink to close out the night.

The Rules

  1. Drink whenever someone says “married.”
  2. Drink whenever someone is drinking.
  3. Finish your drink when Steve saves Mary from a rolling trash heap but can’t save the audience from the same fate.

Bonus rule! Take a shot when Steve and Mary finally kiss!

The Movie

If you watched The Wedding Planner by yourself tonight, you would probably hate it. At first glance, it appears to be a by-the-numbers romantic comedy, starring a few actors who don’t really give a shit about the movie. However, if you were to get a few friends together, taste test several different cocktails, and have a couple bottles of America to boot, then watch the movie while talking through most of the movie, you would realize this movie is a true gem. This is the experience we had, so that’s what we are going to review. If you want a straight review of The Wedding Planner, go to Rotten Tomatoes and read up on why it got a 16%.

Alright, first of all, Matthew McConaughey, the man with a last name that sounds like it would be easy to spell until you find yourself writing about him and having to look up how it is spelled every single time. He’s not just a man with a deceivingly hard to spell name, he is a hell of an actor who has been blowing up recently with some incredible performances in movies like Mud or Dallas Buyers Club, as well as True Detective. That man somehow got stuck with a mind-numbingly boring part in a arguably terrible rom-com (we wouldn’t be arguing that), and rather than letting that get him down, he appeared to really embrace it, have fun with it, and make the part his own. There were several scenes where we assumed he improvised and refused to do another take. For instance, in one scene he starts toasting a marshmallow over a candle on a hangar. There is no way that was in the original script. That scene had to be 100% McConaughey, all to make the part his own.

The Wedding Planner also rewards the observant viewer. There is a scene where McConaughey’s character, Steve, has a handful of M&Ms, which he sorts through until he only has the brown ones left. The camera cuts to his handful of brown M&Ms to demonstrate. As Steve explains his thought process, the camera cuts back to his hand, and he has colored M&Ms in it again! Certain that this was no continuity mistake and definitely a part of the film, we speculated about what this sudden appearance of colored M&Ms could mean. Is Steve a time traveller? Was the real Steve swapped with an alien Steve in the instant between those camera cuts? Are they magical M&Ms that reproduce via budding, an asexual form of reproduction? Do the colored M&Ms symbolize the vitality and excitement Steve feels coming back to his life after he met J. Lo’s character, Mary? We aren’t sure and unfortunately we weren’t able to find any interviews from the director, writer, or actors where they cover the mysterious reappearance of the M&Ms, so we may never know.

So, all in all, The Wedding Planner was really fun. It was an extremely typical romantic comedy, for sure, but it was the right kind of typical romantic comedy. If Con Air is the quintessential so-bad-it’s-good action movie, The Wedding Planner just may be the so-bad-it’s-good rom com. It just has to be enjoyed with the right mindset.

The Reviews

André: “I do” say, I enjoyed this movie! I did spend most of the movie speculating why McConaughey-the-actor made the decisions that he did, and what he said to the director before and after every scene, but I enjoyed doing that, so I’d give the movie 10/10.

Leanna: I was surprised by how much I didn’t hate it. This movie probably gained most of its points because of the timing. It was all too relevant watching Mary discuss flower arrangements and Steve and Fran struggle to pick their song. That being said, this movie really wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was nice seeing Steve and Fran have a very civil and adult conversation about why they shouldn’t get married and choose to do other things on their own. Even Mary’s dad who had some of the more questionable lines and plot points finally came around, so I have to give them credit there too. Plus, this movie had all the weird McConaughey moments you could ask for including him toasting a marshmallow over candle.

Ben: 80%. I am going to get straight to the point and say that despite its formulaic nature, this movie has a certain charm to it that I did enjoy. I was all prepared to go into this movie and have a good time watching it, in that I could hate on it, but all in all I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. McConaughey does a wonderful job of being that slightly aloof yet beautiful man that you could dream about getting together with, and J. Lo has a confidence to her even when it may not be the best acting. The movie itself handled the sticky situations well, didn’t make the wife-to-be a horrible woman as they very easily could have, and it was ultimately saner minds that prevailed and the love that brought the leads together. Also there was a gay couple in the film, or at least I like to think that is what they were hinting at. How I imagine it is that after J. Lo’s mother dies, her father then finds love in the retirement home with another gentleman named Burt Weinberg. There was definitely some subtext there that I am positive the movie was trying to get across, and I am here for it. But enough about that – onwards! I now regret and realize that I should have written this review as if they were wedding vows to The Wedding Planner, because perhaps I am in love.