‘Shotgun Wedding’ movie review: J-Lo rom-com is Die Hard at a wedding

A destination wedding is invaded by masked gunmen in Shotgun Wedding, which is now streaming on Prime Video. This high-concept slam dunk of Die Hard at a Wedding should be an easy layup, but somehow misses the mark.

Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel star as the couple-to-be, Darcy Rivera and Tom Fowler, who we pick up with on the eve of the big day. They’re on an island off the coast of the Philippines with friends and family including Tom’s midwestern folks (Jennifer Coolidge and Steve Coulter), Darcy’s divorced mom (the great Sonia Braga) and dad (Cheech Marin), and dad’s young new girlfriend (The Good Place’s D’Arcy Carden).

Tom wants everything to be just right for the big day – he ignores his wife-to-be to decorate pineapples – while Darcy never wanted a big wedding to begin with. That’s enough for Shotgun Wedding to manufacture the drama needed for Darcy to call things off minutes before stepping up to the altar.

But wait! Before the wedding can be canceled, it’s invaded by masked pirates who take everyone in the wedding party hostage except for the couple-to-be. Now Darcy and Tom must work together, John McLane style, to defeat the armed baddies and save their wedding party and maybe fall in love all over again in the process.

This kind of high-concept thing writes itself, and it plays out in such routine fashion it might as well watch itself, too. Director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) approaches the concept with an overly-lightweight touch, ensuring that we’re never able to invest in the suspense even with some well-written and choreographed scenes of action.

Shotgun Wedding doesn’t need to be a serious-minded action movie in order to work, but when there are multiple gruesome deaths during the course of the narrative, a little gravitas is in order. We’re not watching Looney Tunes here.

Both Lopez and Duhamel (a replacement for Armie Hammer) offer likable and increasingly intense performances as their character work out their relationship through the bloodshed. But because we meet these characters at their wedding and they’re already at each other’s throats, there’s never really any rooting interest to see them get (back) together.

Lenny Kravitz shows up as Darcy’s Peace Corps all-star ex-boyfriend Sean, who shows up for reasons of plot contrivance. Nothing against Kravitz, but this role was clearly designed for a Dwayne Johnson or Jason Momoa to really threaten Tom’s masculinity; Shotgun Wedding’s third act, in particular, could have really benefited with this role recast.

These kinds of action-adventure-romance-comedies (see also: Knight and DayThe Bounty HunterKillersThis Means War) try to please too broad of an audience and end up failing to really deliver on any particular front. Shotgun Wedding is as good as any of them, but fails to become anything more than a pleasant-enough diversion. The island setting (with locations in the Dominican Republic standing in for the Philippines) provides better escapism than anything in the narrative.

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