Shotgun Wedding: Jennifer Coolidge as a mother-in-law with a machine gun? Well, it can’t be all bad...
Shotgun Wedding describes itself twice. As written, it’s the story of Jennifer Lopez’s big day if it were hijacked on an island paradise by armed pirates – see what they did there. But the production was also a gunpoint quest for a replacement groom, when a scandal-beset Armie Hammer quit the shoot just before it started, leaving J.Lo desperate at the altar.
Josh Duhamel rode in, all slick charm, and it’s not his fault that the romantic side of the film is essentially a non-starter. We get to know this pair only in the midst of frazzling stress about seating arrangements, letting First World problems overwhelm them in a Third World country (it’s set in the Philippines, albeit shot in the Dominican Republic). Alas, it’s hard to care when these two take a moment, spoil for a fight and call things off, while the assembled guests, just about to be ambushed, are waiting on the beach.
With bride and groom evading captivity in the much sparkier middle act, it turns out that these two are better suited to breaking goons’ necks and flinging grenades off zip-wires: these Commando-esque hijinks may not engender any more affection for a self-involved Western couple with money to burn, but they’re considerably more fun to watch. J.Lo tearing off the lower half of her hated dress and stealing a dead henchman’s boots is our kind of J.Lo: she really ought to have had a Tomb-Raider-style franchise built around her years ago.
Crass and mechanical as the tone may be, there’s something to be said for any flick that hands a machine gun to Jennifer Coolidge, as a fragrant mother-in-law seizing every chance to meddle. She gets a half-dozen moments of peerless business: the part where she madly screams before anyone else has noticed the bandits is as perfectly meme-able as her best stuff from The White Lotus.
The supporting cast otherwise fight for scraps. Sonia Braga and Cheech Marin are pitted against each other too ineffectually as J.Lo’s divorced folks – Braga’s fierce, but couldn’t Marin have been funny, too? When old flame Lenny Kravitz flies in on a helicopter from Bali, having not bothered to RSVP, it’s such a supremely Lenny Kravitz thing to do that the stunt casting overrides any need to act.
There’s a ceiling on any romcom with this tough, this cynical an exterior: when the whole cast attempt a heartfelt singalong, it’s so out of place you’re more likely to cringe than swoon. But the film is mutinously bored with weddings, which is a start, and has a punchy aerial climax that’s much better value than the average first dance. In a sickly-sweet genre, it’s almost bracingly sour.
15 cert, 101 min. On Amazon Prime Video now