‘Shotgun Wedding’ Largely Wastes Its Talented Cast – Film Review

Lionsgate/Prime Video

We meet Darcy (Jennifer Lopez) and Tom (Transformers star Josh Duhamel) on the eve of their destination wedding on an island in the Philippines. Darcy wants to elope, but Tom uses his wedding to prove himself to her family and possibly himself.

The relatively simple set-up for Shotgun Wedding is laid out in the film’s first ten minutes. We meet all their families, see the location, understand the character dynamics and see multiple signs warning of pirates. Tom is eager to please everyone, running around this stunning island trying to recreate the perfect Pinterest wedding; it would be a shame if something went wrong, the film not so subtly forebodes.

The opening scenes do an excellent job of getting the audience up to date with the two families. Darcy’s wealthy father, Robert (comedy legend Cheech Martin), doesn’t like her fiancé; he makes terrible decisions and tries too hard. Her mother, Renata (Brazillian star Sonia Braga), is uptight and unimpressed by everything, including her ex-husband’s new, younger girlfriend (The Good Place’s D’Arcey Carden).

Lionsgate/Prime Video

Tom’s family is more laid back and over-friendly with their new in-laws. His mother, Carol (award-winning Jennifer Coolidge), gifts them a second-hand knife while his father, Larry (Insidious actor Steve Coulter), films everything, unable to get a word in. Things get even worse for the couple when Darcy’s peace corps Adonis of an ex, Sean (Lenny Kravitz), lands in his helicopter.

The set-up is decent, if not predictable, yet all this characterization and cast go to waste. Everything we learn about these two families and an overachieving ex gets thrown out the window in favour of generic action scenes.

On the day of the wedding day she never really wanted, Darcy starts to get cold feet. She didn’t want to wear her mother’s too-tight dress, she didn’t want her father to invite her ex, and she certainly had no intention of marrying her baseball player beau in the Philippines. Before she can make it down the aisle, men with guns infiltrate their wedding. The guests are held hostage at the ceremony while the couple irons out their relationship issues in their room upstairs.

The premise perfectly lends itself to an action comedy, yet the pieces don’t entirely all fall together here. Lopez is charming, ripping out her hair extensions and wedding dress and getting into the action. Josh Duhamel doesn’t quite sink into the role of the sensitive Tom; he lacks the charm required to be J.Lo’s leading man.

A key issue with this film is that Lopez and Duhamel miss the chemistry to tie the whole thing together. This could be because he came to the role last minute, replacing Armie Hammer. At no point is their relationship–although written as strained–believable. With a thin plot and underwritten characters, Shotgun Wedding relies too much on the lead couple, who can’t make the material work.

Lionsgate/Prime Video

Some of the best comedic talents in the industry are regulated to hostages throughout the movie. Jennifer Coolidge livens up the ensemble in a way only she can, overcoming a somewhat cliché mother-of-groom character. Anyone who has seen recent awards ceremonies knows Coolidge can turn any situation into a moment-worthy gag.

It seems a baffling choice to stuff the talent into the pool as a hostage with nothing to do while Darcy and Tom are fighting for their lives. There are no attempts to integrate this cast into the action, and the laughs are few and far between. The end credits of the cast having fun together show you what Shotgun Wedding could have had. The villains are also underwritten, but there are enough twists and turns to keep you entertained over the zippy 100-minute runtime.

Shotgun Wedding isn’t an unenjoyable movie. It has a decent premise, and Jennifer Lopez is at her best as the ass-kicking bride. However, Shotgun Wedding can’t overcome the feeling that there is a better film with this cast, in this location, with this set-up buried under this.

Shotgun Wedding opened in select theatres internationally and began streaming on Prime Video starting January 27.

by Amelia Harvey

Amelia is a freelance writer, frustrated novelist and occasional wrangling of international students. She is especially interested in LBGTQ culture and 1960s and 70s music. She also writes for Frame Rated, The People’s Movies and Unkempt Magazine, amongst others. Her favourite films include Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Moulin Rouge and Closer. You can find her on Twitter @MissAmeliaNancy and letterboxd @amelianancy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.