“Shotgun Wedding” – Just shoot me.
Yes, I voluntarily attended a screening of a movie called Shotgun Wedding. Yes, I willingly devoted two hours of my life to a film starring Jennifer Lopez and that guy that plays that one soldier in the Transformers movies (Josh Duhamel). Yes, I knowingly watched a movie that Lionsgate smartly sold to Amazon rather than eat the losses of a North American theater release. My defense? Someone had to fall on this grenade to save the rest of you. But really…it was the only advanced screening of the week.
Shotgun Wedding is exactly as bad as it sounds. One bit of marketing billed it as Die Hard at a wedding, which is an insult to Die Hard and weddings and the English language. Its premise is that a couple’s destination wedding in the Philippines is hijacked by pirates and the couple must save their relationship and their guests and I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
(SPOILERS – You’re welcome.)
Shotgun Wedding is billed as a romantic comedy / action romp and only one of those adjectives is accurate. There is plenty of action, but nary a joke or romance to be found. The film immediately starts off on the wrong foot, thrusting us into the middle of the rehearsal dinner where bride-to-be Darcy (Lopez) is juggling her parents and in-laws while they snipe at each other. Darcy’s parents Renata (Sonia Braga) and Robert (Cheech Marin) are long divorced and very bitter towards each other. This situation is made more uncomfortable by the inclusion of Robert’s younger, yoga instructor girlfriend Harriet (D’Arcy Carden). On the in-law side are Larry (Steve Coulter) and Carol (Jennifer Coolidge), neither of whom Darcy’s parents care for. I can’t say I blame them as Carol is an over-the-top version of the worst aspects of Coolidge’s entire filmography. If there was any chance this scene would feature humor, Coolidge stomped all over it.
Meanwhile, groom-to-be Tom (Duhamel) is inexplicably not at the dinner, but instead is putting the finishing touches of a romantic gesture on a speed boat. In the first of many cringeworthy attempts at comedy, a nearby security guard mistakes Tom for a pirate, causing Tom to fall in the water. Despite being labelled a groom-zilla by Renata, Tom has somehow forgotten about the rehearsal dinner, as pointed out by the guard. Tom gets to the dinner just in time to see Darcy’s ex-fiance Sean (Lenny Kravitz) exit a landing helicopter, invited by Darcy at Robert’s request. Get it? It’s funny because it’s super-cliched.
I’ll tell you what else isn’t funny. Tom choosing to decorate light-up pineapple centerpieces rather than have sex with Darcy, who is half naked and literally tells Tom to come have sex with her (post-rehearsal dinner). Somewhat begrudgingly, he obliges, but then completely ruins the mood by asking Darcy questions about Sean mid-make out. The only thing that could make this scene less funny is if Tom’s mom walked in. Yeah, the scene gets less funny.
To make matters worse, the next scene features the couple getting into an extremely contrived heated argument right before the wedding ceremony, Darcy storming off after whipping her engagement ring at Tom. All of this set-up is supposed to be setting the tone for the promised fun action flick, but the only tone we’re feeling is what children experience when mom confronts dad while holding a pair of dad’s girlfriend’s panties. Then, pirates take all the wedding guests hostage. Yes, pirates.
While the unhappy couple are off bickering, pirates storm the beach where the ceremony is to take place, demanding Robert (Darcy’s very rich father) give them tens of millions of dollars. Robert refuses and the pirates threaten to kill Darcy, except they don’t actually have Darcy captured. You know who they do have? Darcy’s sister Jamie (Callie Hernandez). If the film hadn’t already lost me by this point, this scene would have done it. And that’s before we get to the part where the group launches into a sing-along that will make you shove your fingers into your ears so hard they’ll meet in the middle.
From here, the movie goes full Die Hard, but it completely fails because suspension of disbelief isn’t possible. Die Hard is believable because John McClane is a cop; his skills are at least plausible for fighting terrorists. Darcy is a lawyer who was once in the Peace Corps and Tom is a washed-up minor-league baseball player. Their skills combined couldn’t thwart the Hamburglar, let alone machine-gun wielding pirates. To get past this little detail, the film shoves its fingers into its ears so hard they meet in the middle.
The pirates then become the Keystone Kops, making it so easy to defeat them that Darcy and Tom have time to continue bickering with each other while killing pirates. Many familiar bad action tropes make an appearance, from bad guys who can’t hit anything they are shooting at to bad guys being distracted by ridiculous antics to a good guy with zero fighting skills defeating a bad guy clearly trained in hand-to-hand combat. At one point during a fight scene, Tom has time to find a stick resembling a baseball bat, take up a batting stance, then hit a live grenade that Darcy tosses him after waiting for him to find the stick. And of course, the grenade hits a bad guy. Sure. A failed minor-leaguer whose hand was nearly sliced off in an earlier scuffle definitely makes that clutch hit.
The film isn’t all bad though. If you can get past the inept pirates, the feeling that nothing is at stake, the complete lack of sympathy for anyone in the film, a pointless and unnecessary villain reveal, the puppy-murdering attempts at humor, and performances from Lopez and Duhamel that are best described as “dammit…are we sure this is a real movie?” there are two positive things worth mentioning. The first is watching a bad guy get turned into small chunks after being sucked into the spinning blades of a helicopter. The second is this movie going to straight to streaming. Now, could someone please help me get my fingers out of my ears?
Rating: Ask for six months of Prime Video membership, while Lionsgate cackles in the background.