Although we’re almost to the point where the stench of death surrounds movies that go straight to streaming, that assessment applies to “Shotgun Wedding,” which loads both barrels with Jennifer Lopez, late replacement Josh Duhamel, and Jennifer Coolidge and still fires blanks. The film will be released in the United States through Amazon, but even that invitation is worth declining.
Even for an action comedy, this Lopez-produced effort is skewed toward including everything that might entice someone to watch in the trailer, beginning with a shot of Coolidge hoisting an automatic weapon to defend the wedding party. Even though she’s hot off “The White Lotus,” she can’t make up for the tedious execution.
The film is perhaps most interesting for its behind-the-scenes footnote, which was the casting of Duhamel to replace Armie Hammer, who left the project in 2021 due to problematic accounts of his interactions with various women. Those concerns about his social media posts were addressed in the recent docuseries “House of Hammer.”
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The casting switch isn’t the issue, though the math on Coolidge playing Duhamel’s mother is questionable. The bigger blunder is abandoning the cast in a beautiful location (the Dominican Republic, standing in for the Philippines) with such a soiled script.
Tom (Duhamel), a baseball player, has meticulously planned his destination wedding to Darcy (Lopez), which will take place on a private island. While the two are alone bickering, triggered by the arrival of her suave ex-boyfriend (Lenny Kravitz), who has arrived without having RSVPed, a group of heavily armed pirates arrive, kidnapping everyone else in the wedding party.
The masked intruders (masked intruders are a good idea given the film’s merits) demand Darcy’s wealthy father (Cheech Marin) sign over millions as payment. But he won’t until he knows Darcy is safe, as she and Tom awkwardly switch into Rambo mode, fighting a guerrilla war against the pirates while arguing in between.
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There are a few fairly impressive stunts sprinkled throughout the film, directed by Jason Moore (“Pitch Perfect“), such as Darcy and Tom attempting to zipline to safety. But, for the most part, this is a sloppy effort on almost every level, seemingly sold almost entirely on the idea of watching Lopez run through the jungle in a tattered wedding gown.
Lopez’s previous underwhelming marriage-themed rom-com, “Marry Me,” debuted simultaneously on Peacock and in theaters, highlighting the difficult commercial landscape for this genre, quality issues aside.
While the film will be released theatrically in some territories outside the United States, “Shotgun Wedding’s” streaming debut spares those responsible from one likely box-office embarrassment: throwing a big, lavish party and having almost no one show up.
“Shotgun Wedding” will be available on Amazon in the United States and in select theaters worldwide on January 27. It has a R rating.
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