THE STORY – Darcy and Tom gather their families for a destination wedding, but the ceremony gets put on hold when gunmen take everyone hostage. Now, they must do everything they can to save their loved ones — if they don’t wind up killing each other first.
THE CAST – Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Coolidge, Sônia Braga, Cheech Marin, D’Arcy Carden, Lenny Kravitz
THE TEAM – Jason Moore (Director) & Mark Hammer (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 100 Minutes
The rom-com, and all of its sub-genres, is attempting a comeback. After years of the mid-budget movie being close to non-existent, films like “I Want You Back,” “Bros,” “Ticket to Paradise,” “Marry Me,” and more populated in 2022. Jennifer Lopez, the 2000s Queen of the genre, starred in the latter, which became the most streamed day-and-date release of a film for Peacock. Now, Lopez stars (and produces) “Shotgun Wedding,” which is a silly and absurd but ultimately fun addition to the genre. In other words: It fits right at home on a streaming service like Amazon Prime Video.
“Shotgun Wedding” follows Darcy (Jennifer Lopez) and Tom (Josh Duhamel) on their destination wedding day in the Philippines. Tom is obsessed with everything being perfect, while Darcy is just trying to stay calm and be liked by everyone. Following the simple romantic-comedy formula, pre-wedding tensions arise and cause both of them to fight before the ceremony. But unbeknownst to them, pirates have taken every guest hostage, leaving the not-so-happy couple on their own to run from the pirates, save the day, and resolve their differences.
Romantic comedies live and die by the chemistry of their two leads, and thankfully Lopez and Duhamel are a delightful pair. They both complement each other well and are able to balance the physical comedy as well as the dialogue. The film’s best moments are when Darcy and Tom are panicking as they try to figure out how to outsmart the pirates. A running joke about Darcy being queasy at the sight of blood is also hilarious. Lopez and Duhamel are great comedic and physical actors and will undoubtedly make the audience laugh several times during the film’s runtime (more times than you initially thought). But they aren’t the only members providing good laughs. The supporting cast is also quite entertaining. D’Arcy Carden and Selena Tan both have great moments, while Lenny Kravitz is the personification of cool throughout. It’s Jennifer Coolidge as Tom’s mother, who is truly the standout performer. After her tremendous last few years with the success of HBO’s “The White Lotus,” Coolidge is on the top of her game and elevates everything she’s in. Even with a weak script, she always finds a way to make it funny.
Outside of the talented cast, the story is boring. The reason for the pirates taking everyone hostage is predictable and something every movie-goer has seen. The twists aren’t really twists, and the scenes that actually advance the plot are by far the worst and most drawn out. This is a shame since this cast is capable of providing not only fun comedy but emotional realness and integrity as well. It’s not that the cast cannot be multi-dimensional; it’s that the script is so weak and absurd that it’s nearly impossible for the audience to care about the actual plot and character motivations outside the ridiculousness.
For a film that’s going straight to a streaming service, all its faults are, for the most part, forgivable. There’s space in the world for fun, turn-your-mind-off movies you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home, and “Shotgun Wedding” perfectly fits in that category. It’s silly, ridiculous, and at times, ludicrous. But despite all of its flaws, it’s still fun where the positives outrank the negatives and a perfect movie to watch with friends. Sometimes, you only need to watch a mega superstar learn how a grenade works in a tropical location.