Shotgun Wedding movie review & film summary (2023)

Written by on January 27, 2023

Jennifer Lopez plays the bride, Darcy, who didn’t want to have a big wedding but agreed because … well, maybe it’s best to leave that to the film to explain. There are also the concerns of Darcy’s fiancé Tom (Josh Duhamel), a washed-up minor-league baseball player; the insinuating entitlement of Darcy’s ex-lover Sean (Lenny Kravitz), who wasn’t invited but showed up anyway; the awkward energy of Darcy’s divorced mom and dad, Roberto and Renata (Cheech Marin and Sônia Braga), which informs the bride’s anxieties; and the sprightly middle-American cluelessness of Tom’s parents Carol and Larry (Jennifer Coolidge and Steve Coulter). 

Coproduced by Lopez’s company, “Shotgun Wedding” is ludicrous fantasy occurring in the universe of movies. A few stunts are straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller or James Bond picture. But we’re willing to accept the silliest situations and most outrageous moments because the movie has made sure the emotions flowing between the main couples are grounded in the messy specifics of life. (Darcy and Tom have a recurring, irresolvable argument over how many steps in a plan are too many that might make some viewers feel eavesdropped on.) At first, it seems as if the pirates will be faceless Third-World cannon fodder, but specific characterizations and subsequent plot twists upend that concern: everyone in this film is a bit of a kook, including the bad guys. As in hard-edged Hollywood comedies like “Game Night,” the violence goes up to the edge of unpleasantness while staying in cartoonland.

Lopez and Duhamel are both probably too old for roles that show signs of having been written for twentysomethings. Lopez, 52, has an ingenue’s energy and insists, “I’m a grown woman!” Duhamel, 50, is as old as the oldest active Major League Baseball player, and we’re supposed to accept that he was being scouted a year before the film’s events. But the performers are such fierce comic presences that we accept them as a couple of lovable kids who have a lot to learn about relationships.

Lopez puts her physicality to great use. In the first part of the movie, Darcy, clad in a tank top and undies, “tries” and “fails” to reach a book on a high shelf to flirt with her stressed-out fiancé (this is part of their bedtime roleplaying routine; he’s the hunky handyman). It’s naughty and funny in the way that actual flirting can be. Later, there’s a stunt that is to long bridal trains what the end of “The Incredibles” is to superhero capes. It’s followed by a poster-ready moment where a shotgun-toting Darcy’s previously encumbering gown gets shredded in a way that makes her look like a sci-fi bounty hunter. Duhamel uses his action-hero body and oak-aged bourbon voice in a wounded way. His Tom is giant little boy who lives in fear of being a disappointment. But once explosives go off and golf carts tumble from cliffs, the character’s filthy, blood-spattered tuxedo brands him as a stalwart action hero: Bond’s low-self-esteem Yankee cousin.

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