Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Coolidge Shine in Action-Comedy

Think of the worst possible thing that could happen on your wedding day. Your answer will probably depend on what sort of personality dysfunctions you might have. For me, a perception-conscious perfectionist, it’s that my wedding photographer will only take photos of me from a side profile.

But your worries may be a little different. The flower arrangements will look off; your jealous cousin will wear white to spite you; your great aunt, Maude, will have too much champagne and get handsy with a waiter (again). I guess that whole “partner leaving you at the altar” thing is a big one, too.

But to have a fear of pirates crashing one of the most memorable days of your life seems a little irrational. Thankfully, that’s where cinema comes in to save the day, once again making the impossible oh-so-gloriously possible. Shotgun Wedding is just that kind of film—the one that might sound silly on paper for its purely inconceivable nature, but is executed with such raging confidence that it somehow works against all odds. Kind of like some marriages!

The film, streaming Friday on Prime Video, stars Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel as Darcy and Tom, a couple who are luxuriating in their Philippines destination wedding. Even amidst Darcy’s estranged parents and Tom’s overcompensating nature, they’ve managed to get every detail of their destination nuptials just right. Until—wouldn’t you know it—a team of pirates crashes their wedding day, holding the guests hostage after marking the lavish venue as a surefire place to score.

It’s the kind of ludicrous plot that could only work with the full commitment of its cast and a tight, punchy script. Luckily, Shotgun Wedding has both, using them to its advantage at almost every turn. Most notable is another phenomenal turn by Jennifer Coolidge, fleeing the White Lotus for another tropical locale to play Duhamel’s gas of a mother. Two knockout action-comedy performances from the Jennifers Lopez and Coolidge elevate Shotgun Wedding from forgettable streaming fare to a lean, highly amusing romp as entertaining as any summer blockbuster.

Shotgun Wedding thrusts us right into the action. It doesn’t waste our time with montages of poorly Photoshopped images of Darcy and Tom’s love affair through the years. Nor are there any hamfisted proposal scenes and a time-jump forward to the wedding. Happily, we are brought into the film’s events as fast as the quickie wedding in its title would imply.

Tom and Darcy are trying to enjoy their rehearsal dinner, despite Darcy’s mother, Renata (Sônia Braga), telling her to heed caution. Darcy’s father, Robert (Cheech Marin), ran off with his nu-spiritual yoga teacher, Harriet (D’Arcy Carden), something Renata isn’t over. Adding to Darcy’s nerves is Tom, a stickler for details who just wants to get their wedding right. That’s a tall order when Darcy’s ex-fiancé, Sean (Lenny Kravitz), shows up to the wedding despite never returning his RSVP. Though their relationship is far in the past, Sean and Darcy’s shared time in the Peace Corps has given them a closeness that remains intact years later.

Good thing that Tom’s mother, Carol (Coolidge), is there to calm both of their nerves with her raucous, giddy personality. From the moment Coolidge danced into the frame while singing “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,” I was sold. Here, Coolidge pivots from the archetypal naive, ditzy blonde that she had begun to be pigeonholed into by Twitter after two seasons of The White Lotus. Coolidge’s comedic timing as Carol is quicker and more assured than she’s allowed to be on HBO, and her every last line made me howl with laughter.

Balancing that kind of comedy with action without sacrificing either is a tough nut to crack for a lot of genre films. Shotgun Wedding, however, leans so well into its goofy premise and characters that it never fully feels like it’s wasting its potential. When the pack of masked pirates attacks the wedding with machine guns, forcing all of the guests into the infinity pool to stay put, it would be easy for the film to let the laughs fall by the wayside. It’s clear a moment later—when Carol absentmindedly points out Darcy’s father as the pirates call roll from the wedding nametags by earnestly saying, “Robert, they’re calling you, hon”—that isn’t going to happen.

But Tom and Darcy themselves are nowhere to be found. They’ve had some pre-wedding jitters they had to hash out in a secluded corner of the resort, far from where the hostage situation has occurred. The couple is now seconds from calling off the wedding. But when Tom spots one of the gunmen skulking about, other issues become far more pressing, and he and Darcy have to decide whether to fight back or try to flee.

The comedic chemistry between Duhamel and Lopez is off the charts—remarkable, considering that Duhamel was a last-minute replacement after Armie Hammer dropped out of the film in 2021, following a slew of abuse allegations. Watching the film, you’d never know it. Duhamel and Lopez play off each other like old friends, exchanging dialogue so well, it almost feels like improv.

As Darcy and Tom have to put aside their own anger with each other to cleverly outwit a party of pirates, the film indulges in some great back-and-forths and action sequences. It doesn’t hurt that Lopez is one of our greatest living movie stars, either. She delivers every line like a seasoned pro. Even when screenwriter Mark Hammer slips in a line of exposition here and there to fill out the couple’s backstory, Lopez renders it completely believable and natural. At one point, Darcy gets a hold of a grenade without the pin in it—making the bomb active but not explosive, unless she lets go—and wonders, “So, what, this grenade is just part of my life now?” In Lopez’s skilled care, the line comes off far less dopey, instead conjuring vivid imagery of her character toting a volatile weapon alongside her for birthdays and funerals.

That’s not to say every joke lands. Shotgun Wedding does occasionally veer on spinning out of control on its absurd premise, and my eyes almost did a full pirouette when one character dared to call themselves “a messy bitch who lives for drama.” This is a film that doesn’t need to kowtow to Gen Z for anything—a vast majority of them will probably think Lenny Kravitz is just some actor (or Zoë Kravitz’s dad), anyway. But the film is remarkably good at climbing out of the occasional valleys it dips into, unafraid to get a little wear and tear on its white bridal tulle.

The movie is replete with predictable twists and dependable plot points, but most are implemented with genuine service to the story. Nothing in Shotgun Wedding feels lazy. In fact, it comes off as a heroic modern tribute to distinctly 2000s action comedies, like Get Smart and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It’s sexy, memorable, and a sincere blast to the very end.

It’s genuinely a bummer that this isn’t playing in 3,000 theaters around the country, in the dead heat of the dog days of summer. I would do a lot of things I’m not proud of to enjoy this movie on the biggest screen possible, with a medium popcorn (no butter) and large Diet Coke. Shotgun Wedding is totally ephemeral but so damn fun; it would be perfectly paired with the feeling of the sun on your skin after spending 100 minutes in the dark of a movie theater. But in lieu of that sweet feeling, I will happily take the image of Jennifer Coolidge wielding a machine gun instead.

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