Shotgun Wedding (2023) Movie Review: Jennifer Lopez has a huge fanbase. People have showered her with love over the course of her music and acting careers. She has managed to stay relevant in some way. Besides her talent in any of these domains, she has smartly used her natural charm to uplift the projects she works on and bring them larger visibility.
With her new release, ‘Shotgun Wedding,’ she uses a mix of these elements to her advantage. While she occasionally gets a chance to show her acting chops, she also gets to do action sequences to depict herself as an action star. Unfortunately, none of it saves this film from being an uninspired drivel that is difficult to sit through.
This Jason Moore directorial effort uses a mix of action, comedy, and romance genre elements. The story follows Darcy (Jennifer Lopez) and Tom (Josh Duhamel). The couple go to a remote island with their friends and families for their destination wedding. From the moment they are presented on the screen, it becomes loud and clear how their casting is based more on their audience appeal than their acting skills.
With Josh, you get a tall, handsome man with a chiseled jaw and an overall attractive build that can easily shun any 20-year-old. A similar case is with Jennifer Lopez, who oozes charm and boosts a physique much needed for the action sequences.
While not precisely for these particular reasons, last year’s Ticket to Paradise also benefited heavily due to its leading pair of middle-aged actors. You see George Clooney paired with Julia Roberts.
They play a divorced couple who were not on great terms with one another for years. It ruminates over the themes of love, life, and commitment unoriginally. Still, it manages to win you over precisely because of the acting talent of these two actors. Even in its most rudimentary genre beats, the film pulls you in due to its effortless charisma.
For a while, you forget that they are not young anymore and delve into the fantasies they brought to the screen in their past careers. More importantly, it is not an arduous task to sit through that romantic comedy.
Shotgun Wedding did not need to be philosophical by any stretch. It did not need to make any strong argument either to be taken seriously. It only needed to use the romance tropes well enough and use its leads to the best of its potential.
Just look at Rye Lane from this year’s Sundance, and you will see how romantic comedy tropes can still evoke genuine emotion. That adorable British rom-com reminds you of several films from the genre and still manages to charm you, despite having unfamiliar faces in its leads. So, the Mark Hammer script could have at least used the genre in the best possible manner.
Instead, the film struggles to keep you invested in its stakes. It introduces this couple and their families while never quite building a convincing chemistry between the characters or the actors. They all look great, and you find another ‘attractive people struggling with their romantic desires’ film, where ‘looks’ take the cake. Besides the central couple, the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Callie Hernandez do their job of looking attractive.
Jennifer Coolidge is brought in as a comic relief, who is a queen of saying inappropriate things at inappropriate times. Owing to the actor’s fine abilities, she does her part incredibly well to make the film as fun as possible. It won’t be unfair to say that her dialogues are the only amusing factor about the film.
More than J.Lo’s banters with the male lead, her interaction with Coolidge create impactful comedic moments. Sônia Braga, Cheech Marin, and D’Arcy Carden have not been given enough to work with, despite being great actors otherwise.
The focus is on J.Lo, and she does her part fine enough. The actor is certainly impressive in the brief moments where the film shows Darcy’s emotional struggle. However, Josh Duhamel serves hardly any purpose than to bounce off their dialogues to a person who looks maddeningly appealing.
The times when the film turns into its action-adventure side, J.Lo is far more effective than him, despite the inherently boring action choreography. So, in the end, you feel that you invested your time in this drama, only for her and for Jennifer Coolidge’s recent fame with The White Lotus.