Here’s a list of things you could do instead of watching all 1 hour and 41 minutes of Shotgun Wedding. Ha! No! Obviously, I’m kidding. I would almost never tell you to absolutely not watch a relatively lackluckster action rom-com. I’ll leave that decision up to you and your distraction needs. I will, however, spend some 1800 words regaling with all my thoughts on it. So, take my hand and let’s wander through the paper-thin premise of this movie, which, though released in the year of Streaming Services 2023, still centers on nameless, faceless, mostly Brown pirates holding a bunch of mostly white people hostage during a wedding at an upscale resort in the Philippines. How do you solve a problem like horrible stereotypes, moldy tropes, and racism? Not with this movie, apparently. Sigh. At least we can admire some Genetically Blessed Faces along the way? I will say the first three minutes of this movie are okay, and there are a few jokes throughout that land, but overall it holds together less well than the front of Lenny Kravitz’s blouses.

For comparison purposes, of course.

Darcy Rivera (Jennifer Lopez) is anxiously awaiting her fiancé Tom Fowler’s (Josh Duhamel) arrival at the rehearsal dinner for their destination wedding. (Please note that while this takes place in the Philippines it was filmed in the Dominican Republic.) It turns out that Tom is running late because he’s feverishly working on some last minute Pinterest-inspired projects that he wants to get just right before the big day. He’s also getting mistaken for a pirate by the resort security guard and thus falling into the ocean, which is some big (unnecessary) foreshadowing. Darcy’s mother, Renata (Sonia Braga), refers to him as a “groomzilla,” but Darcy assures her that he’s just “committed to making every detail perfect.” Does Darcy care about the perfect wedding? Not one whit! Ah, yes. The old swapped gender role stereotypes. Is this what equal rights look like? Absolutely not. Meanwhile, Tom’s mother Carol (Jennifer Coolidge), who has never really traveled before, shows up, singing “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” and announcing that she’s been “looking forward to this moment since they cut baby Tommy out of my abdomen.” All of this is, of course, delivered with the wonderful weirdness and humanity that only Jennifer Coolidge can muster, but it is still not enough to save this movie from itself. Her husband Larry (Steve Coulter) follows in her wake, filming everything on his camcorder. Also there is Darcy’s super-wealthy father Robert (Cheech Marin), who wanted to pay for this whole shindig and hold it at the Four Seasons, but Darcy demurred because she’s a grown woman and money isn’t everything, or something like that. At his side is his much younger girlfriend Harriet (D’Arcy Carden), who spouts nonsense about being honored to “bear witness to this sacred observance rebirth and devotion,” and whom Renata would very much like to stop smiling at her. Tom finally shows up, and it turns out that Darcy’s divorced parents can agree on very much disliking him, though it’s not entirely clear why. Because things are super chill already, this seems a good time for Darcy’s ex-fiancé and former Peace Corp partner Sean (Lenny Kravitz) to helicopter in unannounced from Bali. Cue Tom feeling inadequate next to Sean’s good looks, suave charm, and exposed chest and to Sean being a smarmy ass. 

Jennifer Coolidge's character singing as she enters the room while her husband films her.
This part we can keep.
Darcy in an orange dress and turquoise necklace standing next to her sister who is sipping a drink out of a pineapple that is filled with flowers.
Darcy’s face expresses how I feel about all that is coming.
Cheech Marin and D'arcy Cardin her mouth is open in a smile and he is looking at her. In the background is a man with a blue button down shirt with the first several buttons undone. He has longish hair kind of slicked back and is speaking to a woman with a blonde bob that appears to a wig.
I was going to say something about how these two are wasted in this movie, but that’s redundant because nearly everyone is wasted in this movie. The real question is what is the story with couple in background?!

I know this is going to shock you, but it seems that Tom having been laser-focused on wedding plans, losing his job as a baseball player, and even (GASP!) putting off sex to fiddle with centerpieces (wow, does that sound like a euphemism) has been frustrating for Darcy. Tom, on the other hand, feels unsure about the fact that Darcy already broke up with one fiancé at the last minute and that she doesn’t seem as invested in the big wedding as he feels. All of this comes to head on the morning of the wedding after Darcy has been strapped into Carol’s floofy confection of a handed-down wedding dress and has had her hair updone into a lacquered nest. (I feel like Jennifer Lopez must have had some kind of creative control over the final look of both these things, though, because they are about twelve notches below the kind of out-dated wedding dress monstrosity you could  imagine Jennifer Coolidge’s character would be harboring in her midwestern closet. And the hair is verging on tame.)

Darcy in a champagne off-the-shoulder wedding dress that involves a lot of gauze. Her mother and sister stand to one side and Tom's mother's back is to the camera.
Honestly? This just isn’t that bad. I mean, it’s not good, but it’s not that bad.
Darcy in the same dress but now with a very long veil.
The veil is a bit much and the dress has got to be hot, but like there’s no way a woman who got married at least 40 years ago wouldn’t have something far more over-the-top. Look at what she’s wearing today!!

Darcy and Tom end up arguing that the other one wants to call off the wedding to the point that they actually call off the wedding. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, all their guests are taken hostage by masked pirates and herded into the swimming pool where the pirates take a roll call and tag each guest with their place card. Why? Do they plan on playing party games? I’m pretty sure names aren’t important in this type of situation. I guess it’s to make sure they’re all there. After the formal introductions are made, they demand $45 million from Darcy’s father who, it turns out, is worth even more than that. He  refuses to cough up any cash until he has proof his daughter is safe, however; thus, the antics are afoot. 

Darcy and Tom arguing on the balcony overlooking some scrubby tropical plants.
Now shit is getting real.
The wedding guests walking into the swimming pool with their hands above their heads.
Shit getting realer here.
Pirates wearing masks that cover their faces, carrying guns and dressed in dirty clothing.
And the pirates.
Darcy's sister and the best man standing next to each other in the pool. She looks annoyed. He is holding candies in his hand.
I didn’t even have time to tell you about the subplot about Darcy’s snide sister and the somewhat woebegone best man sleeping together. You know what? You’ve heard it all before and it’s not worth recounting.

Darcy and Tom, still cranky and sniping, but relatively uncaptured, try to evade the pirates in order to find cell phone service or access to a boat and get help from a nearby island. Soon enough, things come to blows with one of the pirates, and Tom ends up killing him quite dead, which he says makes him feel “horrible. But excited. You know, like, happy. Like, I’m gonna shit my pants. But…in a good way.” So that’s, like, a turn this movie has taken, and also a lot to unpack. Look, there are any number of things we watch where death happens at astounding rates and it’s successfully mined for humor, but this movie doesn’t manage to pull off that sleight of hand, so the multiple, often close-up, deaths feel mostly macabre and out of place. Also, there is so much emphasis put on the captives trying to humanize themselves to their captors that it feels especially stark that the pirates are almost never seen as anything other than disposable Mean Masked Piratey Guys (and one woman, who dies so JLo can take her shoes).

Darcy and Tom peaking around a corner.
Pirates in the front of a golf cart while Darcy and Tom are captive in the back.
Darcy and Tom standing over a pirate that they just killed.
I’ll spare you the close up of the dead pirate’s face that they also give us at this point, because nothing says comedy like dead eyes.

Anyway, as they’re traversing the island, picking up hand grenades, and cheerfully killing people, they are also confronting their fears (blood and heights) and continuing to work through some simmering relationship issues. You know, as one does. Again, lots of movies employ this kind of trick, but it largely goes splat here. For the most part, JLo and Josh Duhamel feel like they are acting in parallel, like two toddlers playing on the floor next to each other, but not really interacting. So, any romantic tension feels less like smoldering embers and more like a soggy pile of ashes. Also, the dialogue feels less like fun banter and more like actual angry sparring, which is not a joy to witness. And then it devolves into what I guess is supposed to be humorous jabs? She tells him that some jeans he got were actually womens jeans. (The horror! Will he ever recover?) He tells her that he hated her haircut. (Mon Dieu! A bad haircut? Bring the smelling salts!) At the climax of their jousting, she tells him that he makes bad things happen, which is pretty awful. And then he tells her that she’s just a “scared little girl,” and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I was ready to throw out the whole movie based on that one incredibly belittling and patronizing line. And while we’re speaking of sexism, let me add that they do make time for Tom to comment on how Darcy’s wedding dress has “grown on him” after she rips off the poofy skirt and sleeves, leaving her in the revealing under layers. Thank goodness they made sure to alert us to the male gaze. I might have missed it otherwise. May I add, on a practical level, that Darcy has been complaining on and on off about the shapewear that she’s wearing, and when she finally tears off the poofy skirt she groans a sigh of relief similar to what one would emit when removing a terrible bra at the end of a long day. While I agree it must feel good to lose the weight of all that mud-caked fabric, she’s still hoisted and strapped and corseted into the structure of the dress and this movie is lying through its teeth to us if its saying she’s somehow now super comfortable running around in what is essentially a cage covered in gauze.  Lastly on my sidetracked rant, Tom continues to wear his full wedding suit in the midday heat of the Philippines while he’s running for his goddamn life for the vast majority of the movie. So I know neither his comfort nor my gaze are being well represented here.

Darcy looking sad and Tom looking somewhat horrified.
My face when I realized there were still 50 minutes left in this movie.
Darcy standing in an industrial kitchen wearing a ripped wedding dress and combat boots.
Honestly, this isn’t even the same undercarriage of the dress we saw earlier. Either way, though, there is no way she’s breathing easier.
Tom sitting on the edge of the pool in his full wedding suit with his hand bandaged. There nametag on lapel that says groom. is
I too would be sad if I had to run all over an island in this tight-ass suit instead of stripping down an undershirt.

Phew. Sorry. Reviewing this scantly-plotted movie feels like trying to untangle wet toilet paper. Anyway, by the end, Darcy and Tom are going to learn a lot about themselves and love and marriage. They’re even going to learn that no marriage is perfect, not even his parents’ marriage, which seems like something grown-ass people should have figured out a long time ago, but I’m not sure any of these people have actually had conversations prior to this trip, so they really can’t be blamed. Or they can, but they also can’t. You know what I mean? To elucidate that his parents’ marriage is imperfect, we are treated to an extended conversation about who slept with whom and who had a sex addiction, because apparently nothing is funnier than middle American people actually being sexual human beings. Ugh. We are, however, also treated to Jennifer Coolidge holding a machine gun while wearing a floral dress and wide-brimmed sun hat as she growls, “Nobody fucks with my family.”  That woman is a treasure. 

You may be wondering if Darcy and Tom will be traumatized by having witnessed so much carnage and chaos? Oh, absolutely not. In fact, by the end of the movie they will have uncovered their very best selves and naked honesty in their relationship—I will have uncovered a need to bathe my eyeballs. Honestly, I’m pretty surprised no one has scooped up this whole idea as an alternative couples therapy retreat. Book your stay at our luxury island resort where our trained professionals will put you and your partner through our intensive multi-day Pirate’s Plunder™  Mind Body training sessions. Come immerse yourselves in our island’s rich natural resources and build trust with your partner as you work together to kill or be killed by your insecurities in our lush rainforest preserve, where all our trails are well-maintained and lit by eco-friendly solar lamps in the evenings. Through individually planned trauma-based activities, our specially trained pirate professionals will help you strip away the distractions of the modern world, allowing you and your partner to access your deepest, longest forgotten emotions and to  fully connect with each other in your most primal love language. Packages start at $10,000/day. Meals not included. Five night minimum. 

Darcy holding a grenade and still in full wedding dress handcuffed to Tom as they walk through the jungle.
They could even use this as a promotional photo.

Overall Rating on the Chronically Streaming Pain Scale:

Distressing: I’m so uncomfortable. I wonder if this will ever stop. I might want to be sedated.

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