REVIEW: Shotgun Wedding (2023)

Jennifer Lopez as Darcy Rivera and Josh Duhamel as Tom Fowler in Shotgun Wedding. — PHOTO: Ana Carballosa

Directed by Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) — Screenplay by Mark Hammer.

The start of the new year is going by so fast. I’m still trying to catch up on some late 2022 releases, just as I’m trying to see notable 2023 releases. Well, one of the films I missed in January was Amazon Prime Video’s release of the Jennifer Lopez-led action rom-com Shotgun Wedding. I’ve now finally had the chance to check it out. And, well, in spite of a relatively star-studded cast, it’s mostly just ‘okay.’ It’s nowhere near as good as the films it’s clearly modeled after. 

Jason Moore’s Shotgun Wedding tells the story of a chaotic destination wedding in the Philippines. Tom (played by Josh Duhamel) and Darcy (played by Jennifer Lopez) is the happy couple getting hitched, but they are both frustrated by minor things that threaten to end the whole ordeal. Darcy’s wealthy father (played by Cheech Marin) has insisted on having Darcy’s ex (played by Lenny Kravitz) invited, And, on top of that, Darcy and Tom still disagree on the size of the wedding. Soon the bride and groom won’t just have to dodge future-in-laws but also fearsome pirates who hold all of their guests hostage. If they are going to stop the pirates, they’ll have to do it together and hope that death doesn’t part them prior to the ceremony. 

American comedies that are set in exotic locales can sometimes fall victim to the criticism that it just feels like a paid vacation disguised as a movie. That isn’t really the case with Shotgun Wedding, but there are a couple of things that don’t entirely add up about it. One of these is the age of its leads. Shotgun Wedding feels like something that should probably be led by stars in their 20s or 30s rather than stars in their 50s, given that one of Darcy’s problems is that her father doesn’t take her seriously enough to let her decide her own life. Furthermore, it is always obvious what the filmmakers are going for here. It is a destination wedding Die Hard film that doubles as not just an action movie and rom-com but also as a relationship test. And some of its jokes and gags (especially one scene where Duhamel’s character is injured) feel lifted from John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein’s Game Night

Shotgun Wedding is nowhere near as good as Game Night or Die Hard. It’s closer in quality to last year’s The Lost City starring Sandra Bullock, but that film is much more consistently funny. In Shotgun Wedding, the jokes are often not just generic and derivative but also repetitive. Although Jennifer Coolidge is absolutely hilarious in moments, some of these jokes are overplayed. To add to that, several supporting characters are generic. 

Coolidge isn’t the only highlight, though. Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel are good fun in the lead roles, and they manage to function in both rom-com and action comedy scenes. The film makes a great case for those three stars, but that just isn’t enough. Some of the action is quite entertaining, but, ultimately, Jason Moore’s Shotgun Wedding is let down by the unfunny or overplayed jokes and the generic characters. In the third act, I did not really care about the central conflict, even though the setup and payoff for the film’s reveal were quite clever.

5.9 out of 10

– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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