Friday, March 6, 2009

"Marry Me" Takes Us on a Honeymoon to Forget

I confess that I am susceptible to advertising. It's probably why I'm so fascinated by Mad Men (which I'm rewatching for the third or fourth time) and it's how I ended up reading Marry Me.

Thanks to one of those Keenspot ad boxes, I discovered a free issue of Marry Me on iTunes. Curious about how well webcomics translate to mobile devices, I read the first issue on my Touch and then finished it off back at Keenspot.

I almost didn't bother reading Marry Me. It's written by Bobby Crosby, who's better known for Last Blood, a comic so stunning in its mediocrity that every time I remember it has a movie deal, I die a little bit inside. But, I was intrigued enough by the pitch and liked what I was seeing in Remy Mokhtar's art, so I pressed on.

The premise is promising enough. Anastasia ("Ana" to her rare friends) is a pop star in the vein of Britney Spears who sings under the stage name Stasia. Aside from the requisite loneliness, Ana's actually pretty stable as far as pop stars go; she's well-liked, grounded, and apparently drug-free. But she's had a string of bad relationships with famous but shallow men. She craves male companionship, but has grown weary of dating. On the Tulsa leg of her world tour, she spots a guy (a high school guidance counselor aptly named "Guy") in the crowd holding a "Marry Me" sign and, in a moment of inspired impulsiveness, calls him onto the stage and marries him on the spot. Guy and Ana now have to deal with the fallout from their decision, including a media feeding frenzy, Ana's controlling father, Guy's Stasia-obsessed, lesbian best friend (and actual owner of the "Marry Me" sign) Parker, and the question of whether they're legally wed.

But as with Last Blood, Crosby's execution fails to live up to his concept. He had the opportunity to tell a genuinely interesting story about a pair of well-meaning, but perhaps ill-matched, people trying to make their strange and sudden marriage work. Instead, Ana, Guy, and crew hightail it Ana's charity headquarters in Nairobi and embark on a series of relentlessly feel-good adventures. All of the characters -- floppy haired do-gooder Guy, zany fangirl Parker, Ana's brunette pregnant lieutenant of a sister Janny, even Ana and Janny's supervillain-styled papa -- come straight out of manga-inspired central casting and never play against type. It makes for a Tic Tac of a story, not unpleasant, but forgotten the moment it's gone.

Crosby makes a few attempts at originality, injecting the comic with a few moments of abject absurdity (such as when we learn why Guy knows how to deliver a baby). In the hands of a more skilled writer, this might have been charming or contributed to the overall picture of a character's personality. But here it merely reinforces the thinly developed and contrived nature of the world these folks inhabit and makes Crosby's already milquetoast, too-drearily-nice-to-be-true characters even less relatable.

Although Marry Me is sufficiently readable, I found I kept clicking the "Next" button less out of concern for the characters than in the desperate hope that the next page would reveal some glimmer of conflict, character flaws, or even the barest possibility of an unhappy outcome. But alas, the first act simply rattled to its easy and predictable end, and the second, rather than exploring the depths of Guy and Ana's foolhardy relationship, is a side story about how Guy first hooked up with his BFF Parker.

Crosby's apparent goal is to spin Marry Me into an eventual film deal, as he's done with Last Blood. It would probably make for a rather middling romantic comedy, less Two Weeks Notice than What Happens in Vegas. I might catch it on cable on some dull and rainy day, but I'm not going to shell out nine bucks to watch it in on the big screen.

[Marry Me]


Anonymous said...

I very much enjoyed the comic. I read all 5 on the ipod touch. The lack of characterization I attributed to it being short. I would have loved more depth because I liked the story but it just wasn't long enough for that.

I have read many books and comics and read Marry Me out of chance, just stumbled on it with no prior knowledge, the best way. And I came away having enjoyed this. I am sure glad I didn't read reviews on the internet before reading Marry Me. A lesson to be learnt people when watching movies, reading books etc. Decide for yourself what you enjoy, do not let others destroy it for you.

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