Director Kat Coiro exclusively tells EW Lopez is "the only person" who can mount a romantic-comedy revival as she prepares to sing her heart out (literally) in Marry Me.

After 10 years apart, Jennifer Lopez is returning to romantic comedies, a floundering big-screen genre that has missed her sorely (no, Second Act isn't a rom-com). But her new film, Marry Me (in theaters and on Peacock Feb. 11), also sees the star rekindling another storied romance — not with a man (though there's plenty of that, too), but with her love of music.

"There's a scene where she sits at a piano and just plays," director Kat Coiro (She-Hulk, Dead to Me) says of an intimate moment that strips the glitz from Lopez's jilted pop star, Kat, and lets the real-life pop star shine in ways we haven't seen on film since 1997's Selena.

"That's her playing, her singing, without any production — just Jennifer, in a room," she says. "[Marry Me] showcases how she can go from an audience of thousands at Madison Square Garden, to really letting you in."

Owen Wilson and Jennifer Lopez kiss in 'Marry Me.'
| Credit: Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures

The film thrives on that superstar energy: We meet Kat as her heavily publicized engagement to a Casanova singer (played by Maluma, who also worked with Lopez on a full soundtrack of songs for the film) culminates in their wedding at a massive concert. That's where Kat discovers he's having an affair. Distraught, she plucks an unsuspecting teacher (Owen Wilson) from the audience to marry instead.

On the surface, the duo might not seem like a match, but Coiro wanted them to balance each other out instead of tipping all of the film's spectacle onto Lopez's shoulders.

"She has to bring a bigness to his world, but he also has to bring a smallness to her world. It's so much about meeting in the middle and finding someone who's your polar opposite and growing for them," she continues, adding that she changed tiny notes in the script (like, for example, creating a daughter for Wilson's character and nixing early drafts containing scenes of him being bowled over by her celebrity lifestyle). "I wanted to make sure that it was a story about a mutual love and they were mutually beneficial to each other, because they're mature grown-ups."

Coiro calls the setup "classic" (translation: adorably bonkers) in ways that'll satisfy fans of Lopez's The Wedding Planner and Maid in Manhattan, with tinges of Singin' in the Rain-era musicals mixed in as the couple clashes.

She also feels that, amid the genre's recent lag, Lopez is "the only person" who can revive the romantic comedy on the big screen. And, as a producer, the multi-hyphenate did so by weaving in personal experience to add a final layer to the film's meta dressings.

"Having relationships under the microscope is something she obviously knows all about," says Coiro. "She brings that to the movie in a way we've never looked at before: what it means to have your life dissected in front of the cameras."

Talk about taking control of your narrative.

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