Shotgun Wedding (2023) Review!!

Synopsis – Darcy and Tom gather their families for the ultimate destination wedding but when the entire wedding party is taken hostage the bride and groom must save their loved ones–if they don’t kill each other first.

My Take – Though she has proved her acting mettle better in dramatic works like Selena (1997), An Unfinished Life (2005) and Hustlers (2019), the ever-charismatic Jennifer Lopez continues to be one of the more popular faces that represent the romantic comedy genre, with her last film, 2022’s Marry Me, proving to be a success story despite being driven by clichés galore.

For her latest, in another doomed bride scenario, here, Lopez is also given a chance to flex some action muscles and prove that she’s game for anything, no matter how ridiculous. And she is smart enough to offer genuine resourcefulness and emotion to such tropes, channeling just as much fun as the watery script allows.

Resulting in a decent entertainer that is elevated by its strong cast, its grand-scale, and comical action sequences. While some may find the ridiculousness of the set up too much to bear, personally, I found it a delightful escape. This is a film where the plot doesn’t really matter. Lopez is a mega star and we are here for her magnetic screen presence. The film aims to offer light fun and to its credit, it embraces that. It knows it’s not highbrow cinema, so it leans into the silliness.

Seesawing between dysfunctional family comedy, marital drama, haywire gonzo thriller, and fabulous showcase for the megawatt pop star, director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) and writer Mark Hammer (Two Night Stand) deliver exactly what the film promised. It’s the entire reason the supporting cast is peppered with actors like Jennifer Coolidge, who as expected is undoubtedly a standout.

The story follows Darcy (Jennifer Lopez), a lawyer and Tom (Josh Duhamel), a baseball player, who after four years of relationship have decided to get married at an ultimate destination wedding on a private island in the Philippines. With their close friends and family attending, naturally there is the typical stress, like Tom trying to make everything perfect, while trying to please Darcy’s father Robert (Cheech Marin), a millionaire, who initially offered to pay for the wedding, to which the two refused.

Adding more tension to the atmosphere is the arrival of Sean (Lenny Kravitz), Darcy’s ex whom she met in the Peace Corps in Bali, who after their break up ended up working for her dad. Leading to a bit of tension between the bride and groom. But everything gets overshadowed when a brutal gang of pirates swarm in and take all the guests hostage shortly before the ceremony. Darcy and Tom were off having a bit of a fight when this happened, so the pirates begin pursuing them around the resort.

The plot is obviously kept pretty minimal in order to spend more time indulging in humorous bits and set-pieces that don’t always land. And no matter what happens to Darcy from guns, grenades, being thrown out of a car to zip lining over treacherous terrain, nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is going to ruin her perfect smoky eye. It may be a bit corny, but writer Mark Hammer keeps the comedy coming and it has some pep that the recent George Clooney and Julia Roberts’ starring rom com, Ticket to Paradise, doesn’t.

There’s not a moment in this film that’s believable, not only in terms of general plausibility, but also in terms of basic human behavior and interaction, yet the situation itself is hilariously compelling enough to hold one’s attention. The physical, slapstick comedy and relentlessly ridiculous stunts are definitely where the film is at its best. They’re the only aspects of the film that are entirely right in terms of tone.

They are violent, but so elaborate in their violence that they become funny. Moreover, they’re imaginative and unexpected, just wild enough to make us believe that two unarmed people in wedding clothes might stand a chance against pirates. The scene in which the two of them ride a zip-line across the island while she has a grenade without its pin clasped in her hand is pretty entertaining. The resolution to the hostage plot, as to why the pirates were there and who is responsible, is mostly ridiculous, but provides some satisfying payoff.

But, let’s face it, we all came here for Jennifer Lopez, who manages to balance being an overwhelmed bride, action heroine and full-blown goofball with ease. Despite sharing top billing with Josh Duhamel, this is her film and she doesn’t look anything like her real age of 53.

Josh Duhamel too is solid as Tom, taking over the role that initially belonged to Ryan Reynolds, and then Armie Hammer, but was recast after Hammer’s allegations of sexual assault came to light in 2021. Lopez and Duhamel have tangible comedic chemistry, whether it be batting blustering banter back and forth ahead of a particularly tense moment, or settling into more emotionally resonant conflicts about their differing approaches to marriage.

Outside of the two, the supporting cast provide a quality ensemble, though Jennifer Coolidge as Tom’s eccentric mother Carol is undoubtedly the standout, who is provided a dependable amount of chuckles as Tom’s overbearing, humorously obnoxious mother. Lenny Kravitz is surprisingly good as the scheming ex, while Callie Hernandez as Darcy’s dry, deadpan sister Jamie and D’Arcy Carden’s energy-healer-yoga-instructor have their moments. Though Cheech Marin, Selena Tan and Sonia Braga feel underused. On the whole, ‘Shotgun Wedding’ is a decently enjoyable, extremely silly good romantic action comedy anchored by Jennifer Lopez‘s magnetic charm.

Directed –

Starring – Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Coolidge

Rated – R

Run Time – 100 minutes

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