I have lost track of the number of times Jennifer Lopez has gotten married in real life, but I suspect she has made it her secret goal to have the same number of nuptials on the big screen as she has on an actual altar. And now, for the second consecutive year, Lopez offers up a movie that revolves entirely around her wedding. And while this year’s Shotgun Wedding, starring not Ben Affleck nor A-Rod but Josh Duhamel as the lucky groom, is eons better than last year’s Marry Me, that’s not saying much given that the latter was arguably the worst movie released in theaters last year.
For this happy day, J-Lo plays Darcy, who is engaged to Duhamel’s Tom, and they’re having a destination wedding on some remote Pacific Island near the Philippines where a group of pirate-like terrorists invade and kidnap the guests while trying to find and possibly kill the bride and groom for unknown reasons. It’s as if Lionsgate, the film’s international distributor, got a two-for-one deal from the Philippines, given that Gerald Butler‘s Plane also touched down in theaters this month. By contrast, Shotgun Wedding is merely streaming on Prime Video.
In any case, Darcy and Tom are having at least lukewarm if not outright cold feet about their impending vows, given the complicated nature of their relationship and the fact that their own careers are pulling them in different directions. Lopez, director Jason Moore, and screenwriter Mark Hammer are not at all subtle about what they are selling — a sort of fictionalized tabloid that depicts an exaggerated version of what some devoted fans of the superstar singer may imagine her real life is like — aside from occasional Dunkin’s runs, of course.
One would hope, however, that J-Lo and her beloved beau Benjamin do not actually exchange the type of corny lines that Darcy and Tom do in this movie. Even with his terrible judgment, it’s hard to imagine that A-Rod would subject himself to lines like “I just want to get out of your way and make you happy” like Hammer makes Duhamel painfully deliver.
All of this is to say that the interactions between Darcy and Tom are almost if not quite as painful to sit through as those between the characters played by Lopez and Owen Wilson in last year’s Marry Me, which was an unabashed disaster of a rom-com. The action sequences where Darcy, Tom, or both of them jump into the fray to save their wedding parties — and then each other — from the hands of the bad guys, do not fare much better, as they are sloppily rendered to look more like cartoons bouncing off bumper plates than real life stunts. Alex Mallari Jr. co-stars as Dog Face, the leader of the bad guy clan, but he is asked to behave as his fictional name would suggest — like a rabid animal with little depth, and unfortunately, the actor isn’t given enough to work with to make the character anything but a hollow caricature.
The small glimpses of redemption in Shotgun Wedding come in the form of the rest of the supporting cast, particularly the parents of the bride and groom. On Darcy’s side, we have the veteran Brazilian actress Sonia Braga as her mother, Renata. Though the choice of nationality is questionable, the choice of actress is quite welcome. Braga does exceedingly well in this comedic role — not her usual element — even though hers is the quiet, temperate elder who must deal with the other more ridiculous in-laws while keeping a diplomatic style (which she mostly does).
These others include Darcy’s father (from whom Renata is estranged), played by renowned comedian Cheech Marin, and Tom’s preposterous mother Carol, who in a bit of fortuitous casting, is played by The White Lotus sensation Jennifer Coolidge, who’s in the middle of a Betty White-type career renaissance right now. Her presence alone provides enough of a reason to give this movie a look on Amazon. Indeed, Coolidge is so amusing here (as in everything else she has done of late) that one may even dare wish for a honeymoon-themed sequel to the otherwise unimpressive Shotgun Wedding if only to bring her back.
Other supporting players include Lenny Kravitz as Darcy’s ex-lover and D’Arcy Carden as his new love. Both of them are also a delight despite the outlandish nature of the characters they are asked to play, though neither reaches the comedic heights that the veteran trio of Braga, Marin, and Coolidge together provide. Sadly, the three of them are criminally underutilized, showing up delightfully in the set-up sequences before the criminals crash the wedding. Beyond that, they only appear intermittingly as the attention prioritizes the action sequences wherein Lopez and Duhamel try to, as the film’s tagline notes, “save the day.”
Shotgun Wedding offers little else beyond the aforementioned amusing threesome and the obvious catnip for committed J-Lo devotees. None of the below-the-line efforts really stand out, though the “just-enough” budget suggests none are necessarily meant to. Much like the story, they’re simply serviceable. This film is merely filler for Amazon’s January slate as well as for J-Lo’s secret but obvious plan to have one wedding movie for each of her marriages in real life.
Shotgun Wedding is now streaming on Prime Video.