Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel Exchange Nightmare Nuptials in ‘Shotgun Wedding’

Jennifer Lopez has always been a good sport when it comes to romantic comedies, giving her all in classics like “The Wedding Planner” and “Maid in Manhattan,” but Lopez can also kick butt when necessary, which she made clear in “Enough” and “Shades of Blue.” In her latest feature, action comedy “Shotgun Wedding,” Lopez gets to display both of these sides as Darcy, a bride-to-be whose dream destination wedding becomes a nightmare after a gang of uninvited guests take her and fiancé, Tom’s (Josh Duhamel), loved ones hostage.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Voice, director Jason Moore revealed that it was the mashup of tones and genres that attracted him to Mark Hammer’s screenplay, calling it “a rare combination of true action, true romance, and true comedy.” “Shotgun Wedding” starts as a straight-forward rom-com, with the couple bickering over multiple issues on the night before their wedding, namely the insecurities of Tom, a recently retired minor league baseball player who never made it to the majors, who insists on the couple paying for their own wedding, refusing any help from Darcy’s wealthy father, Robert (Cheech Marin). Tom can be more forgiven for his being irked by the last minute inclusion to the wedding party of Sean (Lenny Kravitz), Darcy’s playboy ex who was invited by Robert.

But the film takes a sharp left turn upon the arrival of armed pirates on the morning of the wedding, dangerous criminals who take all the guests hostage and demand a ransom from Robert. Now Darcy and Tom must put aside their differences and work as a team to save themselves, and everyone else. In less than 24 hours, they go from bickering over Tom’s mother Carol’s (Jennifer Coolidge) issues with boundaries to taking on evil-doers in the jungles of the Philippines. And, yes, J-Lo is gorgeous and flawless in all of these scenes, and her comic timing is as sharp as ever.

Moore had nothing but praise for Lopez. “She’s a great physical comedian and she’s a dancer, so she can do a lot of her own stunts. She’s naturally hanging from things and running from things… She can do everything. She can act, she can sing, she can dance, she can do pratfalls. She’s a comedian. She also thinks like a director. She sees what’s going on with everybody on set… It was a joy, and she’s very funny and a lot of fun too. So we had a great time and I felt like, as a director, I was lucky to have somebody who can nail all these things without me actually having to do much.”

Lopez’s other half here, Duhamel, proves to be an ideal teammate. According to Moore, the pair already had a natural chemistry going into filming, having interacted over the years on red carpets and at other events. “He’s got it all,” gushed the director. “He’s an absolutely dashing, classically 1940’s handsome leading man. He’s not afraid to be vulnerable and not afraid to look silly, so he knows how to be funny. And he is also a lovely human being.”

The supporting cast includes Sônia Braga as Darcy’s regal mother Renata, D’Arcy Carden as Robert’s silly yoga instructor girlfriend Harriet, and Selena Tan as Marge, the manager of the rundown resort. Everyone has their time to shine, but Jennifer Coolidge, as always, steals the show. Bubbly and endearing, she brings a lot of the same qualities that made her a hit on “White Lotus” to Carol, but also a warm maternal quality. In real life, Coolidge is far too young to be Duhamel’s mother, but she really commits to her role as a Midwestern wife, mom and realtor, a woman full of surprises who thrives under pressure. She is not afraid to be goofy, vulnerable, and, when necessary, pick up a machine gun. 

Moore, who was a longtime fan of Coolidge’s before casting her, confirmed that she is a blast to work with and gifted when it comes to improv and keeping her co-stars and the crew guessing as to what she would do next on set. “She feels like she might fly anywhere at any moment. In this particular character, I think she plays someone who’s a bit more focused than some of the other characters she plays. But, man, she brings that unexpected comic energy in such a great way. And I think pairing her with a gun in this one and with all that know-how is a nice combination for her.”

But the big surprise in “Shotgun Wedding” is Kravitz. The singer-songwriter is a Grammy winner and lover of large scarfs, but far from the first person anyone thinks of when it comes to comedy. However, the stylish crooner proves to have comedic chops here as this suave former Peace Corp volunteer who is now an entrepreneur, and he pairs well with Duhamel in the scenes in which Sean and Tom are being antagonistic to each other.

“He’s very understated, but he’s extremely observant. He’s very present where he is,” said Moore of Kravitz. “The sunglasses are, I think, so he can look at whatever he wants to look at, not necessarily to ignore things. He’s just, and he, he, he was in on the joke. That’s the most important thing. He arrives and he’s like this stud ex-boyfriend, which could actually intimidate Josh Duhamel. But he was in on that joke and he knew how to play that kind of lacerating charm. He just knew what to do, and I really appreciated him for that because it elevated the role a lot. It made it funnier than I thought it was gonna be.”

At the end of all the adventure and laughs, “Shotgun Wedding” actually has a takeaway about marriage, and that is the importance of teamwork. Darcy and Tom are put through the ringer and come out stronger as individuals and as a couple because of this. While most couples will never have to fight gun-toting baddies in a foreign country, they will have other trials for which they will have to communicate and work together as one to get through.

“Traumatic stuff makes you see your partner in a different way, in a stronger way, a better way,” explained Moore. “And being in a relationship, it can be hard. That’s the metaphor, but pirates are a lot more fun to watch on the screen.”

Shotgun Wedding” begins streaming Jan. 27 on Amazon Prime Video.