Shotgun Wedding, 2023.
Directed by Jason Moore.
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Coolidge, Sônia Braga, Lenny Kravitz, D’Arcy Carden, Cheech Marin, Selena Tan, Desmin Borges, Alex Mallari Jr., Callie Hernandez, Steve Coulter, Melissa Hunter, Alberto Isaac, Pancho Cardena, Worapojd Thautanon, Tharoth Sam, Zachary Wood, Vladimir Acevedo, Powpong Kopholrat, Asia Munma, Héctor Aníbal, Ray Raymundo, Iana Ramirez, Nicolette Carter, María del Mar Fernández González, and Vlad Sosa.
A couple’s extravagant destination wedding is hijacked by criminals. In the process of saving their families, they rediscover why they fell in love in the first place.
It’s an instant relief that Shotgun Wedding plays out like a cartoon more than anything, considering a film about a couple getting married on an island in the Philippines that comes under siege by gun-toting pirates sounds offensive on paper for several reasons.
In 2023, it’s incredibly tiring watching this brand of action movie that does nothing to provide reasonable context and motives beyond money for the foreign villains that we cheer on getting blown up and set on fire for 100 minutes. With that said, it’s forgivable if there’s enough dumb fun not to take the movie seriously at all. But considering marketing TV spots make this film come across as a bride and groom trying to survive a mass shooting (the title doesn’t help), I admittedly was prepared for the worst.
Instead, director Jason Moore (working from a script from Mark Hammer) ops for traditional romantic comedy clichés as Shotgun Wedding opens with a rehearsal evening sequence spelling out that for as much as Jennifer Lopez’s Darcy and Josh Duhamel’s Tom are in love, they have some issues to sort out that they are struggling to communicate to one another.
Tom is so fixated on ensuring the wedding is perfect (a destination wedding that Darcy seems to have reluctantly agreed to, mentioning that she would have preferred to elope) that when Darcy is posing suggestively in the bedroom the night before the wedding, he is too preoccupied to get in the mood. Darcy is filled with self-doubt regarding marriage due to her past relationship with wealthy ex-boyfriend Sean (Lenny Kravitz), whereas Tom tends to self-sabotage anything great going good in his life.
There are also brief introductions to the supporting cast of family and friends, ranging from oddball parents played by Jennifer Coolidge, a sister (Callie Hernandez) hooking up with the best man, divorcees with new partners trying to get along (Cheech Marin and Sônia Braga), suggesting that the wedding would be chaotic with or without its violent party crashers, and of course, Darcy’s ex-boyfriend that weaseled his way into an invite.
Unfortunately, they don’t have much to do, as they quickly become relegated to a mass hostage situation, although Jennifer Coolidge has such impeccable comedic timing that even with only a few moments to flex those chops, she still shines. She’s a concerned mother concerned about the wrong things at the wrong time, frequently interrupting with amusingly dopey lines.
Understandably, the focus is on Darcy and Tom, who find themselves bickering with one another while plotting absurd ways to dispatch generic henchmen looming around the corner looking to abduct them. There’s a clever running gag involving grenades that’s mildly funny and a unique way of setting someone on fire through teamwork, while Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel are charismatic and with enough chemistry to keep the proceedings lively.
It’s apparent that Jason Moore and company put considerable thought into crafting entertaining set pieces that play up the wedding aspect and premarital woes, although nothing sticks out as memorable from a cinematography standpoint.
As an action comedy, Shotgun Wedding works even if there’s nothing particularly outstanding about the movie, but it somewhat stumbles once it begins to take the romance portion of the story a bit too seriously in the third act. It also doesn’t help that the villain pulling the strings is entirely predictable. Worse off, they are boring characters with lame motives, so it’s tough to invest in the mayhem fully.
It’s a shame the rest of the movie isn’t as inspired as the action scenes, but it’s also fair to say that no one is coming to this for the plot. Much like an actual shotgun blast, the fun here is scattered.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com