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Jennifer Lopez’s New Movie Has A Novel Setup, With Mediocre Execution

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It’s equally surprising that “Shotgun Wedding,” unlike the aforementioned “Ticket to Paradise” and “The Lost City,” doesn’t lean heavier in that old cinematic saw of turning the location into a character. (The Dominican Republic took the role of the Philippines for filming purposes.) Where those films, especially “Ticket to Paradise,” worked very hard to feel like travelogues as much as romantic comedies, director Jason Moore doesn’t do nearly enough to make the setting of “Shotgun Wedding” look as tantalizing to us as it’s meant to look to the characters onscreen. The leads themselves try their able best to bring the material to life, though some of the twists are a little hard to believe. (The first example we get of Tom acting like a Groomzilla is when he initially turns down an amorous Darcy in favor of finalizing some of the wedding decor, and considering that Darcy is played by Jennifer Lopez, it is not terribly surprising that Tom only puts up so much of a fight before succumbing to the obvious.)

Lopez and Duhamel have a decent if baseline amount of chemistry. (Again, in terms of recent romantic comedies, there’s a good deal more chemistry in “Marry Me” between Lopez and her co-star Owen Wilson, the latter of whom is also a good deal better at bringing moribund material to life.) But the script of “Shotgun Wedding” is rote enough beyond the twist on the standard concept that the cast has to do a lot of heavy lifting. Outside of the larger-than-life casting of Kravitz as Darcy’s ex — his character arrives by helicopter and might as well be playing Lenny Kravitz himself considering the reaction of the female wedding guests — there aren’t a ton of pleasant little twists. That is, aside from most of Coolidge’s dialogue (which feels as much like it’s how she delivers the lines as the lines themselves).

“Shotgun Wedding” is yet another reminder that romantic comedies can continue to be made on a moderately large budget, even though their heyday may be far in the rearview mirror. It’s a good thing that movies like this exist — though unlike “The Lost City” and “Ticket to Paradise”, this one’s headed straight to streaming on Amazon Prime Video. But just because it’s good that they exist doesn’t mean that they can just get a pass. “Shotgun Wedding” could’ve worked, even with the script as is, if the cast was a little sharper, a little less prone to yelling half of their dialogue, and a little more willing to get weirder and more unexpected. But only one of the ensemble got that memo.

/Film Rating: 4.5 out of 10

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