Shotgun Wedding (2023)

“I wanna be romantic but not too corny.”

As predictable as it is forgettable, Shotgun Wedding is a new and heavily formulaic streaming option that never knows what it wants to be. It has all of the right elements in place, with plenty of dreamy and steamy leading looks to send it on the right path to garner mass viewers, but it’s a deeply confused film, and we never really know if we’re watching a soft PG-13 rom-com or a hard R rated adult comedy. Something tells me most involved were just as unsure. It was written with shotgun spray, and by trying to hit everything, it never really hits the any single target square on.

What Shotgun Wedding most has going for it is that its two leads have great chemistry, even though the setup to their destination wedding so clearly has the writings on the walls (quite literally, as we see a sign say ‘Beware Pirates’ from the get go). Tom (Josh Duhamel) is a groomzila determined to make the day perfect, doing DIY projects to save on costs, and who’s a bit insecure. That’s because his bride to be Darcy (Jennifer Lopez) called off her previous engagement at the last minute; he’s afraid she might do the same to him. Her ex is Sean (Lenny Kravitz), who’s still friendly with her wealthy father Robert (Cheech Marin), and he shows up in a chopper with his top buttons undone and his pecs out for all to see. Tom is unsure if he deserves a woman like Darcy. Sean’s arrival doesn’t help his confidence. And that’s all before the wedding guests are taken hostage.

Most of the writing in Shotgun Wedding operates around what’s convenient and easy. Tom and Darcy have a big fight, so might as well knot them together with zip ties instead of wedding bands. Darcy carries a grenade with a pulled pin for miles instead of merely chucking it over a cliff, and the weapon is eventually used to kill off some bad guys in a spur of the moment action set piece. The film has more violence than I was expecting, and that’s why I said earlier that it never really knows what it wants to be. The separate tones are merely fine in their execution, but there’s no cohesion or throughline. It’s better and more original when it goes darker and dirtier.

Shotgun Wedding isn’t a bad movie. The leads sell the romance and the fights and the ultimate reconciliation. We know where it’s going to end and mostly how it’s going to get there. The supporting cast does what it’s meant to, and is led by a standout turn from Jennifer Coolidge as the groom’s eccentric, loud mouth mother. Yet while watching this film, I couldn’t help but think that director Jason Moore and screenwriter Mark Hammer might have seen the great Game Night too many times in the past, and tried to implement that hard R humor into a Romancing the Stone PG atmosphere. Shotgun Wedding is a lot of things; I just wish it had been its own venture and not pieced together by so many other inspirations.

“Something doesn’t feel right.”

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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