“Shotgun Wedding” is a chocolate-coated cherry with liqueur. It starts off as a great but only practical romantic comedy about a couple who are both jerky on the eve of the big day. Then the sun rises and the movie turns into an action comedy.
The heroine and her fiancé try to save their parents and the rest of the wedding from pirates who have hijacked the wedding on a small island near the Philippines with poor cell phone reception.
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).
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.
Screenwriter Mark Hammer and filmmaker Jason Moore (a film and TV veteran who directed “Avenue Q” and “Steel Magnolias” on Broadway, as well as “Pitch Perfect”) have a sure touch with their leads and get sharp supporting performances from the secondary cast. Coolidge steals the movie as she always does: by blurting out surreal, nonsensical things at inappropriate moments. Marin is also superb in a role that calls for underplaying (he gets some of the film’s biggest laughs by repeating two words: “Thanks, Carol”). Braga’s part is underwritten (or perhaps got cut down?), but she uses her otherworldly gaze to suggest that the character keeps secrets she’ll never share. Kravitz is another standout, playing a preening chunk of beefcake who thinks he’s God’s gift and is good-looking enough to keep failing upward. It’s like George Clooney’s performances for the Coen Brothers, where he takes the piss out of himself for being so handsome.
At its best, “Shotgun Wedding” has snapshots of Howard Hawk’s screwball romances like “Bring Up Baby,” where a panther regularly prowls and the main couple clings to a disintegrating dinosaur skeleton. . Cary Grant puts on a woman’s silk robe and exclaims, “I just went gay all of a sudden!”. It’s not the plot that counts, it’s the larger story of personal growth. Two strong-willed girls learn to overcome their differences and become a team.
It’s a “die-hard” reimagined as couples counseling.