As a pitch, Shotgun Wedding sounds like a fun time. A couple’s intimate destination wedding at a resort in the Philippines, with their family and friends, gets upended when pirates hijack the whole affair. Watch what they do to save their love and loved ones! Unfortunately, all that rom-com potential – and the charming star power of Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel – is underserved by an irritating script that pits the couple against one another and wastes the comedic talents of just about the entire ensemble. Essentially reduced to just looking hot (and they’re not afraid to flaunt their assets on camera), Lopez and Duhamel’s comedic wings have really been clipped here.
Shotgun Wedding starts well, dropping us into the rehearsal dinner of Darcy (Lopez) and Tom (Duhamel) held at a small resort on Mahal Island in the Philippines. Together for four years, the pair are finally tying the knot in the wake of Tom retiring from pro baseball due to advancing age and waning prowess. Thus, he throws himself into an obnoxious “groomzilla” role trying to plan the perfect wedding for Darcy, who just wanted to elope. But they’ve gathered their parents, siblings and close friends to “celebrate” together at a destination wedding that’s fraught with tense family dynamics.
To make matters worse, Darcy’s wealthy dad, Robert (Cheech Marin) invites Darcy’s hot, philanthropist ex, Sean (Lenny Kravitz), to the wedding. Kravitz makes a great choice to flaunt his sexuality in a self-effacing way which amps up Tom’s insecurity to new heights. It throws the couple into a spiral of pre-wedding conflict – so much so that the pair have it out in pre-nuptials about how the wedding itself has put them at odds. Adding to all this “fun” is the bizarre hijacking of the resort and the wedding guests by pirates. Due to their earlier private screaming match, Darcy and Tom manage to avoid the group kidnapping, and a game of cat and mouse ensues.
The action part sort of happens, but the “funny” is replaced with the pair relentlessly squabbling.
One might expect Darcy and Tom to suddenly get thrust into some outsized, yet hilarious hero situations trying to save each other and their loved ones. The action part sort of happens, but the “funny” is replaced with the pair relentlessly squabbling every single step of the way as they try to outsmart the pirates intent on capturing them. With that kind of sustained level of agitation aimed at one another, frankly, the pirates have no space to be anything other than plot devices with guns. They function to accidentally get picked off by the couple – sometimes in excessively gruesome ways for this type of movie – as their paths cross in the jungle, on the beach, and within the resort.
Maybe screenwriter Mark Hammer overestimated how much anyone outside of sadists might enjoy watching two people who are supposed to be in love angrily harp on one another for 100 minutes, but it certainly doesn’t help those of us trying to root for Darcy and Tom. Their trek becomes a series of mini therapy session sidebars at inopportune times for them to thrash out why they’re so angry/fearful/ambivalent about actually tying the knot, or remembering why they love each other. Who signed up for ringside seats to couple’s counseling with their fun, exotic rom-com? Anyone?
The ensemble full of great comedians/actors are given nothing but basic cliches to play.
Director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) has proved he can put together funny movies, but there’s barely any comedy here to mine. The ensemble full of great comedians/actors, like D’Arcy Carden (The Good Place), Desmin Borges (You’re the Worst), Sonia Braga, and Marin, are given nothing but basic cliches to play. Only Kravitz and Jennifer Coolidge, as Tom’s midwestern mom, Carol, manage to make something out of the paucity they are given. Bless Coolidge screeching, “Check all the ditches!” for at least giving me one major laugh.
Shotgun Wedding Stills
Moore is also out of his depth with staging dynamic action scenes. Yes, Lopez packs an imposing silhouette in a frayed dress while holding a gun, but there are no scenes that live up to that classic spy movie visual. She’s more wasted potential, as scenes which could have put her front and center with saving the day devolve into big monologues that get maudlin or just dumb, with no actual action payoff. In a better movie with a clever script, Lopez and Duhamel could have really sold this premise. If you’re looking for a better version of a warring couple fleeing assassins in the jungle, Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum essentially did the same thing with far better results in The Lost City (2022). Shotgun Wedding is an idea that deserved a lot better execution – not only for its cast, but for its audience too.
Sitting through Shotgun Wedding will make you think more fondly of every wedding of people who shouldn’t get married you’ve ever attended. The incessant bickering of Darcy and Tom through 80% of the film will have you rooting for them to break up and save us all from this overly serious and painfully long trial of our patience. Aside from Jennifer Coolidge landing some zingers here and there, there’s no heart in this tedious attempt at an action romcom.