It’s hard to believe that rom-com royalty — Jennifer Lopez (The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan) and Josh Duhamel (Life As We Know It, When in Rome) — have never made a movie together until Amazon Studio’s Shotgun Wedding. It makes sense to put these two together in a romantic movie as both are beautiful people with experience in the genre. But unlike their sappy romantic films that follow the same formula, Shotgun Wedding gets mixed in with some action and adventure with pirates, money laundering, and lots of explosions.
The film starts like a typical rom-com with the bride Darcy (Lopez) and groom Tom (Duhamel) welcoming their guests to their destination wedding on a small island in the Philippines. Darcy’s parents Renata (Sonia Braga) and Robert (Cheech Marin) – along with Robert’s spiritual girlfriend Harriet (D’Arcy Carden) — don’t really like Tom and prefer her to be with her ex-fiancé and Robert’s business partner, Sean (Lenny Kravitz). Tom’s parents (Jennifer Coolidge and Steve Coulter), on the other hand, are the typical white bread family who accept Darcy with open arms… maybe a little too much. The bride and groom themselves are dealing with some insecurities of their own that cause a major argument before the wedding, leaving their guests waiting at the wedding venue.
Suddenly, the resort is taken over by pirates with everyone, except Darcy and Tom, as hostages. They demand money from Robert in exchange for the safety of their daughter, but Robert demands he sees his daughter is still alive. The pirates look for Darcy and Tom, who are trying to figure out a way to get help.
Billed as “Die Hard at a Destination Wedding,” Shotgun Wedding falls more with the goofy as Darcy and Tom are not in any way shape or form law enforcement or have any military training. There are moments of hilarity as the duo attempts to take out pirates one by one – sometimes by pure dumb luck. But, the second act drags on as Tom and Darcy work through their frustrations to get results. Lopez and Duhamel are charming individually, but it’s not until the third and final act, their love becomes slightly believable. Fortunately, the supporting cast lifts the film up a bit, particularly Coolidge and Braga stealing every scene they’re in.
The film did have some unexpected twists – one that was a bit obvious and another that caught many of the audience off-guard. Yet, not even that could save the film from the chaotic editing, distracting CGI, and unsteady tone. The writing also seemed a bit insensitive towards Asians when it came to distinguishing their ethnicities and the brutal takedowns of the Asian pirates.
Overall, Shotgun Wedding is entertaining only during the third act as Lopez transitions from Rom-Com Queen to her Fighter mode as she fights to save her family. It just took so long to get there. The film would have fared better if it focused on the romantic portions rather than all the action gimmicks in order to believe they’re a couple in love ready to fight. Still, the film is mediocre at best, but worth seeing Coolidge using a machine gun – through streaming, of course.