Movie Review: Shotgun Wedding

All hail Jennifer Coolidge! The 61-year-old actress has had a busy movie and TV career for years but it’s only now that she’s getting the appreciation she deserves. Fans of a certain age (i.e., my age) will remember her hilarious turns in Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries of the 2000s (BEST IN SHOW, A MIGHTY WIND and FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION) as well as one episode of FRIENDS where she plays Monica and Phoebe’s old roommate, Amanda Buffamonteezi. (The outtakes from that episode are a riot and are worth checking out on YouTube.) But it’s her recent role of Tanya McQuoid on the second season of THE WHITE LOTUS that is endearing Coolidge to a whole new generation of fans. Coolidge now features prominently in a new film starring a more famous Jennifer — J-Lo. Not surprisingly, Coolidge is the best thing about SHOTGUN WEDDING.

Forty-something year-old lawyer Darcy Rivera (Lopez, MARRY ME; SECOND ACT) — zone out for a second and you’ll miss those two facts about her — is getting married to former professional baseball player Tom Fowler (Josh Duhamel, LOVE, SIMON) and Fowler has planned an elaborate destination wedding at a resort in the Philippines for them. All their family and close friends have come along, including Darcy’s divorced parents, Renata (Sonia Braga, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN) and Robert (Cheech Marin, THE WAR WITH GRANDPA), Tom’s parents, Carol (Coolidge) and Larry (Steve Coulter, THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT; THE HUNT), and Darcy’s hunky ex-boyfriend Sean Hawkins (Grammy Award-winner Lenny Kravitz). As last-minute preparations for the ceremony get underway, the resort is overrun by pirates who take the guests hostage. They’re after Robert’s money but the unhappy couple, who have escaped from the pirates, are not about to let that happen.

Two things are consistent about Jennifer Lopez: First, she knows her brand. When you go see one of her romcoms, you know exactly what you’re going to get. You’re not going to be challenged and you’re not going to be shocked. Her films are just fluffy entertainment that will make you forget about everything else that’s going on in the world for a hundred minutes. In this respect, SHOTGUN WEDDING hits the mark. Second, the 53-year-old singer-actress’ body defies gravity. While it’s beginning to border on the absurd that she continues to play characters who are much younger than her, one still has to marvel at how good she looks. One of my colleagues thinks there’s a bit of CGI tweaking going on in post-production but I’m not so sure. Yes, there’s one laughable scene in the film where Tom’s face is all battered and bruised while Darcy’s perfectly made up face doesn’t even have a scratch on it but I think we’re seeing J-Lo’s perfectly toned abs and tush as they really are. Good on her, though, for allowing the screenwriter to poke fun at impressive body shape.

Duhamel proves himself to be a worthy foil for Lopez and the pair has good on-screen chemistry together. The producers originally cast Armie Hammer in the role but he backed out (or perhaps he was asked to back out) due to the allegations of sexual abuse that have since derailed his career. I think the producers lucked out there as I can’t see Hammer being as game for the story’s physical comedy as Duhamel turned out to be.

The film’s pacing, though, is somewhat problematic. Certainly, ten minutes could have easily been lopped off as the story drags once all the guests are taken hostage. Thankfully, it picks up again once director Jason Moore (PITCH PERFECT) turns the camera onto Coolidge. If this story had more of her, I would give it five stars. Okay, four stars. As it is, though, it’s average but that’s what you get with a J-Lo film.

SHOTGUN WEDDING was originally scheduled for release in cinemas last June but is only coming out now (January 12th). Last March, Amazon purchased the digital rights and the film will be released on its Prime Video platform on January 27. SHOTGUN WEDDING does what it says on the box.

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