Some actors outgrow their roles. Disney Channel kids eventually outgrow those insufferable laughing tracks; Clint Eastwood had to switch from handsome cowboys to older cowboys; heck, even Tom Holland will eventually outgrow Peter Parker. But something actors are sometimes able to avoid growing out of are genres (I mean, we did just see Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci do a mob film in 2019), and if anyone is living proof of that, it’s Jennifer Lopez. J. Lo may be over 50, but she still owns the rom-com genre and has been on such a career revitalization with fringe Oscar contenders and banger after banger in recent years.
Tom (Josh Duhamel) and Darcy (Lopez) are gearing up for their destination wedding and you already know that each side of the about-to-be-joined families has a lot to say on everything ranging from the seat placement to the napkins. Tom, dubbed a “groomzilla” by his future mother-in-law, is the primary planner of the wedding and has tried to make it the perfect tying of the knot for him and his bride. He’s so committed to making this wedding his day that he declined an offer from Darcy’s father to pay for the wedding in order to retain creative freedom. Darcy, on the other hand, is seemingly getting cold feet for some reason and receiving complaints left, right and center from her divorced parents while they bicker over smiling.
And while every wedding has its drama, Tom and Darcy’s takes the cake. Sean (Lenny Kravitz), Darcy’s ex, shows up after not RSVP’ing to the event (there’s always one!). After a few passive-aggressive comments from the ex to the future husband, the real drama begins. While the bride and groom are having second thoughts and isolated from the guests, a group of pirates — including one who dons a mask akin to Pinhead — take all of them hostage. Amidst all of their drama, it’s left up to Tom and Darcy to save their wedding. Is it weird that I would have happily watched another 45 minutes of this wedding?
When you have as charismatic a lead as J. Lo, do you need anything else? It’s now back-to-back romcoms where she faces outrageous circumstances — trade falling in love with a fan holding a sign in the crowd for wielding a shotgun — and has flourished in those roles. She’s sexy, of course, but things like her gagging at the sight of blood bring the character home.
But J. Lo isn’t the only anchor holding Shotgun Wedding down. Duhamel is a great screen presence opposite J. Lo. He’s handsome, sure, but there’s something endearing about the boyish expressions that cross his face as Tom comes to the realization that he seriously hurts someone in the film.
If you’re an SNL viewer, you’re likely aware of Chloe Fineman’s spot-on impression of Jennifer Coolidge. While I’m not a particularly big fan of Coolidge (mostly because I haven’t seen that much of her work), she’s the MVP of Shotgun Wedding and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who disagrees with that. Granted, it was incredibly difficult to not hear and see Fineman’s impression throughout, but her comedic timing was on point throughout and she just steals the show.
The weekend of watching Shotgun Wedding, I managed to unintentionally have a Jason Moore double-feature. What I’ve learned from Sisters and now Shotgun Wedding is that Moore has a good feel for comedy and framing. Peter Deming — who has done everything from the first three Scream sequels to Mullholland Drive to My Cousin Vinny — serves as the DP of Shotgun Wedding. While not necessarily blocked with any panache, there’s enough there to make you believe that Deming was doing enough to keep himself entertained.
But the limitations of Shotgun Wedding are on full display in its script (which was written by Mark Hammer, whose only other feature film credit is Two Night Stand starring Miles Teller). Sure, the film earns its R rating with its gore and violence, but save for that, there’s something missing from the script. I think there’s one genuinely funny line when a character is accidentally killed, but most of the comedy is situational — a la the family dynamics in the beginning — or reliant on the actors themselves such as Lopez, Coolidge and even Callie Hernandez to put over jokes like veteran wrestlers do rookies with their charm or delivery. There are just too many missed opportunities in a film that gives you everything you need for setup between the family dynamics, the setting of a wedding and the actors you’re working with.
Just as many of Prime Video’s other original rom-coms are — take recent films The People We Hate at the Wedding and Something from Tiffany’s as examples — Shotgun Wedding is a breezy and fun rom-com. It doesn’t reset the genre or even take a new angle as Marry Me did a year ago, and its script plays it way too safe, but it’s just so over the top that it works. Full of vibrancy, fun set pieces and led by a great trio, Shotgun Wedding is not as bad as a January straight-to-streaming rom-com could be.
Prime Video will release Shotgun Wedding on January 27.