‘Shotgun Wedding’ marries a rom-com with an action film

Shotgun Wedding
Jennifer Lopez as Darcy Rivera and Josh Duhamel as Tom Fowler in ‘Shotgun Wedding’.
Ana Carballosa

Your typical rom-com is one packed with love, drama, romance and likely some comedic moments. But for ‘Shotgun Wedding,’ Prime Video’s latest venture into the genre, this story packs in a lot of action and adventure on top of the typical romantic comedy storyline for one unique watch.

Starring Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Lenny Kravitz, Jennifer Coolidge, Cheech Marin, D’Arcy Carden, Steve Coulter and Selena Tan, the story takes the idea of a destination wedding and makes the stakes that much higher—with pirates, hostages and plenty of actors with comedic chops in life-or-death situations.

The film opens with Darcy (Lopez) and Tom (Duhamel) the night before their wedding in the Philippines with their family and friends all celebrating at their rehearsal dinner. And in true typical wedding fashion, the space is filled with a group of very different people, and with the cast, director Jason Moore was going for the same kind of gathering.

“At a wedding, sometimes you look around and there are these people who would never be in a room together for any other reason. So, I kind of wanted our cast to feel like that too,” Moore explained. “The casting for this was kind of a puzzle because you need people who can be grounded and real, and also funny and physical.”

Shotgun Wedding
Pictured are Jennifer Lopez as Darcy Rivera, Josh Duhamel as Tom Fowler, and director Jason Moore in ‘Shotgun Wedding’.Ana Carballosa

That tall order was met through the two central lovebirds, but also through Tom’s sweet but slightly oblivious mother (played by Jennifer Coolidge), Darcy’s rich and slightly smug father (played by Cheech Martin), and his younger girlfriend (D’arcy Carden). Then of course, there’s Darcy’s ex, the larger-than-life Sean, played by Lenny Kravitz.

Although the character of Sean arrives to the rehearsal dinner like a rock star (though a helicopter of course), Kravitz traded in his microphone for a script through ‘Shotgun Wedding.’ And it’s something the musician says he looks forward to in a way to exercise different creative muscles.

“When I’m making music, I’m primarily in the studio by myself. Playing the instruments, writing, producing… It’s my thing, it’s my expression, but it’s a great relief to then go and work with people and have it not be about me and how I want and what I want, but to then be there and serve the character, the director and the script. I love that,” Kravitz explains.

He continued: “I think the most wonderful thing about this experience was that we all really enjoyed being together and living together. We enjoyed the process and it was a lot of fun in a very surreal time in this world. At the beginning of COVID, we got to go to the Dominican Republic and have fun together and be creative. It was a very special time and I think that we all had a lot of gratitude.”

As Kravitz says, the cast and crew spent most of their time living with one another while filming, virtually working, playing and creating together. And though as audience members we don’t see the behind-the-scenes, the outcome on screen is quite apparent.

Shotgun Wedding
Cheech Marin as Robert Rivera and Lenny Kravitz as Sean Hawkins in ‘Shotgun Wedding’. Ana Carballosa

“It was a special film, I’ve never had an experience like this—and I don’t want to have an experience like this again because it was unique,” Cheech Martin says.

“Jason made it easy, it’s just about being comfortable in the setting. We had so much time to bond with everyone, it sort of felt like we were a family working on a little film project. It was good fun,” adds Selena Tan, who plays one part of the couple who runs the island.

‘Shotgun Wedding’ escalates the day of the actual wedding for Tom and Darcy. But even before the pirates set foot on the island, the happy couple is not actually in wedding bliss. They have different opinions about things from the start, from how big the ceremony should have been, to what they should do the night before, and how they communicate.

But, in true rom-com fashion, the disagreement sets up for a lot of character development, which is then elevated by the pirates that take everyone hostage.

“[Jason] wasn’t afraid to make it a big romp of a movie—he went there,” explains Duhamel. “This felt different than anything I’ve ever done and that’s what I loved about it. This movie felt totally and comedically different.”

For Lopez’s Darcy, we see visually the transformation her character is going through with her wedding dress, which was given to her by Coolidge’s character earlier on in the film.

“I really felt like the dress was its own character in the movie, but also really represented what she was going through. I wanted it to start off where [Darcy] was super uncomfortable—it was the biggest, most cumbersome, kind of beautiful [dress] but also not her at all,” Lopez explains.

She continues: “And then as she went on, and was more honest with [Tom] about who she was and what she wanted and she started peeling back the layers and stepping into her own power and authenticity, that happened with the dress as well. Pieces started to come off and by the end, she’s this bada** taking off her hair extensions and has a gun and is like alright now, everyone listen to me.”

Overall, ‘Shotgun Wedding’ packs in a ton of punches and a ton of twists and turns. It’s an adventure film with a lot of comedy, or a rom-com with a lot of guns—both are accurate descriptions. But it also has the basis to become a classic, or at least, that’s what Jennifer Coolidge said when asked at the global press conference.

Shotgun Wedding
Jennifer Coolidge as Carol Fowler in ‘Shotgun Wedding’. Ana Carballosa

“I think it could [be a classic.] I’ve always liked that sort of high drama—the combination of comedy and actual scary stuff happening at the same time. That is really my favorite kind of movie and I haven’t been in a lot of those with that combo,” she says. “The chemistry especially between Jennifer and Josh, they are so good together on screen, they are so entertaining.”

Lopez agreed with her sentiment: “It’s an action and adventure [film] and there’s so much that happens. But at the core of it, it’s about these families coming together and my character Darcy and Josh’s character Tom, really figuring out who they are and how they are going to make this marriage work.”

‘Shotgun Wedding’ will release globally on Prime Video Jan. 27.