2023, R, 100 min. Directed by Jason Moore. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Lenny Kravitz, Jennifer Coolidge, Sônia Braga, Cheech Marin, D’Arcy Carden, Callie Hernandez.
REVIEWED By Trace Sauveur, Fri., Jan. 27, 2023
There are the movies that you can’t believe get lost to the void after being dumped onto streaming, and then there are those where such a fate seems only appropriate.
Amazon’s new Prime-exclusive romantic-comedy/action hybrid Shotgun Wedding handily fits into that latter category. This humdrum slice of forgettable studio fare about a tropical wedding hijacked by pirates has a simple pitch that could have been elevated with a clever script with a more consistent sense of humor and writing for its performers. Alas, this opts for the direction of stale anonymity; a completely colorless experience that actively refuses to take advantage of its premise to turn this into anything other than merely quotidian.
Directed by Jason Moore, whose most distinguished preceding work would be the first Pitch Perfect film, Shotgun Wedding contains all the standard defects of the shoddy, broad-appeal studio comedy. It’s horribly overlit, shot without consideration for an interesting image, and awkwardly edited with plenty of sudden and unmotivated cutting. It navigates its story with an apathetic level of spirit in its moment-to-moment sequencing. It is the paradigm of a movie that chooses to just go through the motions. Not that I expected anything revolutionary walking into this, but when watching bride and groom Darcy and Tom (Lopez and Duhamel) bicker in hiding about how to take out an armed thug, I would hope to at least buy into the comedy of the situation. The Mark Hammer-penned script ensures such an idea stays outside the realm of possibility.
For what it’s worth, this fits right in with plenty of other forgettable but undemanding J.Lo comedies from the past 20 years, if that kind of thing is your jam. She’s certainly committed to the bit here, even though you can feel her struggling to really let loose of the reins holding her back. She’s at least given a couple of highlights, like being forced to hold on to a pinless grenade at risk of exploding or waving a shotgun around in her completely torn-up wedding gown. Duhamel – recast from Ryan Reynolds, and then from Armie Hammer – is the kind of sturdy performer to capably assist in keeping this thing afloat, and he’s a charming rock for Lopez’s character. Though these characters aren’t well-drawn enough to care when they have to get serious with a running thread about how prepared they are for marriage, the two stars occasionally turn this into a just-tolerable-enough two-hander as they run around the Philippines trying to escape the bad guys and save their hostage-taken families.
The periphery is populated by some solid, mostly wasted supporting talent, including the likes of Cheech Marin and D’Arcy Carden, but it’s Jennifer Coolidge who’s afforded a dependable amount of chuckles as Tom’s overbearing, humorously obnoxious mother. Whatever prompted those slight laughs I couldn’t tell you, as most of the events of this film have already faded from memory – a fact indicative of the nature of this entire outing. It feels like 90 minutes of your life suddenly disappearing into the ether, like you blinked and mysteriously lost an hour and a half. That may be better than feeling like your time was deliberately wasted, but you’re still left wondering what you could have done if you had it back.
Available on Prime Video, Jan. 27.
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Shotgun Wedding, Jason Moore, Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Lenny Kravitz, Jennifer Coolidge, Sônia Braga, Cheech Marin, D’Arcy Carden, Callie Hernandez