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edge staff writer


‘Shotgun Wedding’ a familiar but fun rom-com experience

January 30, 2023
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It sure does feel like the romantic comedy is back.

For a stretch, it seemed as though the rom-com was fading away. However, recent years have shown an upswing in these sorts of films, powered largely by the relentless content churn of Netflix. And in Hollywood, success begets success (or at least imitations of success). So we get more.

(Please note: this is NOT a complaint. I love romantic comedies and am thrilled that they seem to be bouncing back to an extent, though I highly doubt we’ll ever see a return to the glory days. Still, I’ll take what I can get, even if what I get isn’t always particularly original or exciting or … good.)

Next up in the parade of fun, forgettable, semi-disposable rom-coms is “Shotgun Wedding,” coming to us courtesy of Amazon Studios. The film – currently streaming on Amazon Prime – stars Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel and is directed by Jason Moore. It’s a throwback of sorts, a goofy action-packed romp that makes a lot of noise even though the ultimate outcome is never in doubt. You’ve seen this movie before, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a nice enough time seeing it again.

Darcy (Jennifer Lopez) and Tom (Josh Duhamel) have invited their respective families and friends to their destination wedding, taking place on a private island in the Philippines. They’re in love, but the stresses of planning everything have weighed on them, leaving them irritable and short with one another.

All this is exacerbated by the presence of their families. Darcy’s wealthy parents are divorced; Renata (Sonia Braga) has come alone, but Robert (Cheech Marin) has brought along his new girlfriend and former yoga instructor Harriet (D’Arcy Carden). Tom’s folks are pleasant enough, though Carol (Jennifer Coolidge) is a chronic oversharer and Larry (Steve Coulter) just can’t seem to put down his camcorder (yes, a camcorder). Oh, and Robert has invited Darcy’s incredibly handsome ex-fiance Sean (Lenny Kravitz) to attend.

All the tensions mount, leading the couple off into the forest to hash out their issues. However, while they’re gone, a group of pirates descends on the island and demands a massive ransom. With everyone they love in danger, it is up to Darcy and Tom to figure out how to save the day – and perhaps salvage their own special day in the process.

A bit shorter than my usual synopsis, perhaps, but that’s because there’s not much else that needs to be said. “Shotgun Wedding” keeps it all pretty simple, with a basic premise that hits the ground running. That’s a feature, not a bug, by the way – there’s something to be said for just getting down to business. Now, I’m not going to say there’s nothing superfluous here, but even the non-vital stuff tends to at least be kind of fun (though it's probably worth noting that the body count is rather surprising).

And this movie is fun. Perhaps not as consistently as it might have been, but it’s fun. It’s comfort food in much the same way that mainstream rom-coms have been comfort food for decades now. Take a simple premise and an exotic location, stick a couple of extremely attractive people in the leads (bonus if one is a capital-S Star), fill in the gaps with solid supporting players and voila! It ain’t five-star dining, but it’ll prove tasty enough.

All this probably shouldn’t be surprising coming from director Moore, whose CV is definitely an interesting one. This is just his third feature film, following “Pitch Perfect” (2012) and “Sisters” (2015); his bigger claim to fame is probably the fact that he was the director for the original Broadway production of the raunchy puppet musical “Avenue Q.” There’s definitely a straightforwardness to the direction that, while maybe not suitable for every project, works well enough for a film like this one.

Obviously, the central pairing is key for a film like this. In that respect, we’re good to go. Jennifer Lopez remains an engaging screen presence. She holds the eye like few others and that kind of charisma goes a long way. And while Duhamel can’t hope to match J-Lo’s sheer wattage, he’s game enough and charming enough to hang in there, never looking like he doesn’t belong. Their chemistry is good in the more tender scenes, but it’s particularly strong in the more screwball, slapstick-y action-oriented moments (even the very-obviously-green-screened ones). It’s a solid pairing, with the two of them doing good work to bump a middling script up a notch or two in quality.

The supporting cast goes hard as well. Marin is a standout, while Kravitz absolutely slays. And let’s be real – any filmmaker worth their salt should be ready to put Jennifer Coolidge in any sort of resort setting and let her cook. All in all, a solid ensemble, though of course, it all really comes down to Lopez and Duhamel.

“Shotgun Wedding” is a perfectly acceptable romantic comedy. You’ve got attractive leads, some decent jokes, a couple of fun set pieces and a beautiful backdrop. So what if there aren’t really any surprises? So what if there’s nothing new here. If you’re not a fan of the genre, then this probably isn’t for you. If you’re a rom-com lover who finds comfort in the familiar, however, then you’ll want to take a shot at this one.

[3.5 out 5]

Last modified on Monday, 30 January 2023 09:26

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