‘Shotgun Wedding’ Review: An Otherwise Typical Rom-Com/Action Hybrid Saved by Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel’s Fun Chemistry

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Jennifer Lopez sure loves to play a bride in the movies. It all started with the 1995 indie drama called ‘My Family’, where she was briefly shown in a wedding dress.  Since then, we see more of her as a bride on-screen ranging from ‘Selena’ (1997) to ‘The Wedding Planner’ (2001), ‘Monster-in-Law’ (2005), and last year’s ‘Marry Me’. Well, like it or not, the trend continues with Lopez playing – what else – a bride yet again in ‘Shotgun Wedding’. Believe it or not, she’s already 53 years old (!) and she still looks fabulous as ever. Like 20 years younger than her actual age.

In ‘Shotgun Wedding’, we first met Darcy (Lopez) and Tom (Josh Duhamel) as they are getting married in the tropical Mahal Island Resort in the Philippines with their respective families attending as well. This includes Darcy’s parents, Robert (Cheech Marin) and Renata (Sônia Braga), who are both separated from her father and currently dating a new girlfriend named Harriet (D’Arcy Carden). Then, there are Tom’s parents Larry (Steve Coulter) and Carol (Jennifer Coolidge). Darcy’s ex-beau, Sean (Lenny Kravitz) shows up at the wedding too, making things all the more awkward but that’s only one of the beginnings of the problems here.

Next thing you know, Darcy and Tom get cold feet and decided to call off the wedding after a few petty and bitter disagreements. And as if their problems aren’t frustrating enough, a group of heavily-armed masked pirates invaded the wedding and held them, hostage. Except, of course, the couple, who seem to be the only and unlikely hope to save the day and possibly, their wedding.

Imagine last year’s ‘Ticket to Paradise’ but with an added ‘Die Hard’-style setup that takes place in the large confines of a tropical island resort and that’s what you get in ‘Shotgun Wedding’. The movie even takes the title literally, where we have Jennifer Lopez in a wedding dress taking down bad guys with a shotgun! Elements of comedy, romance, and action are thrown altogether with mixed results as Jason Moore, best known for directing 2012’s ‘Pitch Perfect’ and 2015’s ‘Sisters’ tries whatever he can to keep the pace alive throughout its 100-minute runtime.

It’s pretty much a predictable rom-com-and-action-comedy hybrid with Mark Hammer’s (2014’s ‘Two Night Stand’) threadbare screenplay that relies heavily on the usual formula typically seen in this kind of genre mashup. The only exception here is the element of surprise that I admit I didn’t see it coming.

‘Shotgun Wedding’ is also blessed with some energetic action sequences, thanks to Lee Morrison in charge of the second-unit direction. The name may not have been familiar to most casual audiences but he’s responsible for coordinating stunts for the Daniel Craig-era Bond movies including ‘No Time to Die’ in 2021.

Having him onboard does help to elevate the action set pieces in ‘Shotgun Wedding’ with a few notable ones including a scene where Lopez and Duhamel are strapped together and glide down along the long wire from a zipline tower and another one takes place in the climactic finale between a boat, a parasailing and a helicopter straight out from a Bond-style action-movie playbook except it was elaborately staged with a mix of comedy.

Onscreen chemistry also plays a major part that can make or break a movie like this. Well, I’m glad to say Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel certainly have a field day going all screwball-comedy style in their respective roles as a bickering, mismatched couple. Whether they are struggling to find better ways to work together effectively (a scene in the shower room comes to mind) or the part where Darcy has to maintain her grip holding the live grenade (one of the funnier moments in the movie), Lopez and Duhamel’s overall antics are reasonably fun to watch.

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In fact, their chemistry reminds me of Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in last year’s ‘The Lost City’, which also happened to be a rom-com and action combo. Both ‘Shotgun Wedding’ and ‘The Lost City’ may have been narratively different but they share one thing in common. And that is, their respective onscreen chemistry does make a positive difference in turning the otherwise formulaic movies fun and enjoyable.

While Lopez and Duhamel’s snappy chemistry is the highlight of the movie, let’s not forget about some of the colorful and offbeat supporting roles here, notably Jennifer Coolidge’s vibrant turn as Carol and Cheech Marin’s hilariously deadpan role as Robert.

Some of the jokes tend to be too juvenile or embarrassingly corny, as evidently seen during one of the awkward moments where the wedding guests in the pool sing along to Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be”. If only Mark Hammer’s screenplay is given a significant polish beyond his hackneyed storytelling, we might have a better-than-expected rom-com/action hybrid. Still, for all the familiarities and a few shortcomings, ‘Shotgun Wedding’ at least earned its place as a guilty-pleasure entertainment that makes it a worthwhile watch to pass the time.

SCORE: 6/10

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