Review by Cole Groth
You might be disappointed if you’re looking for sophisticated cinema in Jennifer Lopez’s Shotgun Wedding, a romantic action-comedy starring her and Josh Duhamel. Instead, you’ll find a lovably goofy film that’s equally thrilling, funny, and romantic. Lopez has carved out a delightful spot as a rom-com starrer in the last few years, and if you’re a fan of schmutzy fun like Marry Me with a blast of action, this will be well worth your while.
Shotgun Wedding kicks off like any other wedding comedy. On a picturesque island, fiancées Darcy (Lopez) and Tom (Duhamel) gather for their ultimate destination wedding. Coupled with their opinionated families, there’s plenty of drama between various members on the bride and groom’s side. Darcy has second thoughts about getting married, but she’s got bigger problems at hand: terrorists have taken the wedding hostage and will kill various wedding members until they receive an enormous ransom. Sounds about as fun as most weddings, right?
Originally starring Armie Hammer, it was a great turn that Josh Duhamel replaced him because he brings an excellent emotional element to his role. Tom is seriously in love with Darcy, and it’s nice to see a man in a romantic comedy who cherishes the woman he loves. On the other hand, Darcy is somewhat indifferent to the whole marriage situation and brings some needed friction to their relationship.
While the script, written by Mark Hammer, is somewhat formulaic and straightforward, it does an excellent job of taking the rom-com formula and adding a fiery flare. Shotgun Wedding sticks to its R-rating, which means that plenty of the dialogue has as much fire as the action, which is done very well. Several twists and turns are unexpected and stop this from feeling entirely derivative.
Rounding out the cast of family members is hilarious, including Jennifer Coolidge, Lenny Kravitz, Sônia Braga, Cheech Marin, and D’Arcy Carden, amongst others. Each actor brings their own and enhances the hilarious script with their flares. Coolidge, most of all, stands out as a consistently funny force, and it’s getting increasingly frustrating that she doesn’t have a starring role in a romantic comedy at this point. She delivers the most laughs out of the rest of the cast and makes it radiates positive energy that stops the hostage side plot from ever growing stale. It seems that the actors had a lot of fun filming this, and it shows in each scene.
At a brisk 100 minutes, it’s hard to dislike this. Each act moves along pleasantly, but you can’t help but think that director Jason Moore could’ve leaned into the situation a little more. The third act falls too heavily into action-comedy clichés when it had a real opportunity for a grittier ending. Tom and Darcy are troopers and grow throughout the movie to become real warriors, and it could’ve been much fun if we followed them as they sought revenge for their wedding being ruined.
While the journey that the fiancées take isn’t the most original, Shotgun Wedding is perfect for a home movie night. It has something for everybody: star power from J-Lo, hilarious comedy, great action, and satisfying romance. Jason Moore wasn’t trying to make something completely original, but he fully succeeded at making a film that would make all kinds of people happy, and sometimes that’s all that matters as a filmmaker.
Shotgun Wedding streams on Prime Video on January 27.