Shotgun Wedding (R16, 101mins) Directed by Jason Moore **
Having survived The Wedding Planner and a Monster-in-Law, Jennifer Lopez now finds herself up against a groomzilla and gatecrashing gunmen.
But while her tenacious bride Darcy Rivera rises to those challenges in Shotgun Wedding, even JLo’s charisma is no match for a leaden script, predictable plotting and a film that’s tonally all over the map.
Yes, this is an action-comedy where the laughs are few and far between, the pyrotechnics and set-pieces fail to excite and you can hear the graunch of the gears, as director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) unsuccessfully tries to seamlessly shift between the demands of the two genres, while corralling Mark Hammer’s (2014 Miles Teller-starring rom-com Two Night Stand) messy Snatched-meets-Forgetting Sarah Marshall-esque tale into some kind of coherent and entertaining form.
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In what feels like simply an excuse for cast and crew to enjoy an island break, our story is set in the Philippines’ Mahal Island Resort (although it was actually filmed in the Dominican Republic).
Wanting to be in charge of their own nuptials, Darcy and fiancé Tom Fowler (Josh Duhamel) have rebuffed her entrepreneurial father Robert’s (Cheech Marin) offer of underwriting the event.
Although working on a tight budget, Tom is committed to getting every little detail right for his bride-to-be, even if his DIY-approach doesn’t always yield the best result.
However, the recently out-of-contract minor league baseballer can’t quite cover all the bases. There’s the outrageous behaviour of his showtune-singing mother Carol (a scene-stealing Jennifer Coolidge) – on her first trip outside of the US – and the unexpected arrival of Darcy’s glamorous ex-Sean (a disappointingly one-dimensional Lenny Kravitz), at the invitation of Robert. Both raise the tension between the couple, to the point that Tom and Darcy begin to wonder if they are doing the right thing.
Such concerns though fade into the background when a group of mercenaries storm the resort, invite all the guests to wade into the pool and demand Robert wire his fortune to their account.
What follows is a laboured, slapshtick-heavy caper involving out-of-control golf carts, kitchen fights, a disintegrating wedding dress and JLo clinging to a grenade as the now bickering duo attempt to fight back against their intruders.
To be fair, Lopez looks more at home in the action scenes than she does in the earlier sex comedy bits, while Duhamel (the third choice for the role after Ryan Reynolds and the now disgraced Armie Hammer) is stuck with a character who is both unlikeable and woefully one-dimensional.
His presence just adds to the overall impression that this is a movie out of its time. It feels so much like the rom-coms and action-comedies of more than a decade ago (When in Rome, Life As We Know It) that he used to headline.
Remember when this kind of genre film used to routinely feature a cast sing-a-long of an old favourite (here Edwin McCain’s 1997 hit I’ll Be) and ended with a dance/karaoke number? (The Bangles’ Walk Like an Egyptian anyone?) Well, those old tropes have been dusted off here.
With anyone looking at the conceit – and presence of Coolidge – hoping for a White Lotus-esque satire likely to be bitterly disappointed (although she does provide the one crowd-pleasing moment), this is one wedding invitation you’d be well advised to decline.
Shotgun Wedding is now available to stream on Prime Video.