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The first time I heard about Shotgun Wedding was in a tweet that read: “I guarantee you will not predict the absolutely bonkers turn this trailer takes 56 seconds in.” For the uninitiated: the trailer for Jennifer Lopez’s new rom-com begins like you’d imagine a J.Lo-helmed wedding movie to begin. Darcy and Tom are about to get married on a luxury island resort in the Philippines surrounded by their friends and family — including Tom’s overeager mum Carol, played by the iconic Jennifer Coolidge. As Edwin McCain’s rock ballad “I’ll Be” softly plays, Darcy appears to get cold feet and is about to bolt when armed pirates storm the island, kill a resort employee, and take the wedding guests hostage.
No notes. Perfect.
Cue Jennifer Lopez with a shotgun and Jennifer Coolidge with a submachine gun fighting off the pirates to save the couple’s happy day. This is a flawless trailer, so please just watch it now and we’ll regroup: This trailer should be studied in film school as an example of how to promote your movie. After watching it approximately 13 times and dropping it in all of my group chats, I was excited to watch Shotgun Wedding but worried it wouldn’t live up to these two and a half minutes of cinematic genius. But after watching it a few days before its release on Prime Video, I can safely say I worried for nothing — this movie doesn’t just live up to the trailer, it exceeds it. It’s a beautifully unhinged rom-com that subverts everything we thought we knew about Jennifer Lopez, the queen of wedding movies and had me cackling like an old witch as my coworkers looked on in concern, and, I believe, jealousy.
There are so many incredible moments in this movie that I want to discuss, so I decided to go through them all one by one. Here’s every thought I had while watching Shotgun Wedding.
Spoilers ahead, except even though Shotgun Wedding is a delightful subversion of wedding movies, it is still a wedding movie so you can probably guess the entire plot.
- The movie begins as all movies should: on a close-up of J.Lo’s face. She looks like she’s dreading what comes next, which turns out to be the rehearsal dinner. When she finally summons the courage to walk in, we find out why she was hesitant: well-meaning guests applaud (as they should) and swarm around to congratulate her on the upcoming wedding. It’s obvious — I’m going to assume for everyone except Tom — that Darcy doesn’t want a big wedding.
- Tom loses points for leaving Darcy alone at the party but wins points because he’s setting up a cute “just married” boat to surprise her with. Unfortunately, he’s immediately proven to be a goof and falls in the water, then arrives to the party still dripping wet.
- Thank goodness, Jennifer Coolidge is here! She enters the party singing show tunes while her adoring husband films her.
- Carol and her husband Larry give Darcy a set of old knives as her ‘something borrowed’. I already know Darcy will use the knife as a weapon at some point because of the trailer. I’m excited to see who she stabs!
- Carol says, “Everyone in our family uses them on their wedding day. Brings you a lifetime of good luck. Except for Uncle Greg, who ended up getting decapitated on that forklift. But that’s not the knives’ fault!” Let’s have a moment for Carol, the knife, and Uncle Greg!
- D’Arcy Carden is here too! She plays Darcy’s (with a lower case A) dad’s new girlfriend Harriet, a much younger yoga teacher wearing a big hat. I think most people look silly in hats, but D’Arcy Carden (upper case A) looks cool as always.
- This article could easily turn into a list of Jennifer Coolidge’s best lines, like, “When I’m in formalwear I like to pee standing up, how ’bout you?”
- Lenny Kravitz arrives via helicopter, which is impressive but not a better entrance than Jennifer Coolidge’s. He plays Darcy’s ex-fiancé Sean, a sleazy-hot business man who didn’t RSVP, insists on calling her cute nicknames, and refuses to wear a shirt for the entire movie. I can’t decide if his character arc is going to be sabotaging the wedding by revealing he’s still in love with Darcy or by pushing the already insecure Tom over the edge, but I know he’s going to mess it up somehow.
- Tom is excited and Darcy is having cold feet in a hideous dress. They steal a moment alone together to make sure the day starts on a good note and… end up calling the wedding off. Love is a lie, etc etc.
- I actually forgot this movie had a twist until the armed pirates showed up. For the first 20-something minutes it’s solely a wedding movie and it’s so funny that I was okay with that. They are here now though.
- The pirates round up the guests and staple name tags to their outfits. Carol doesn’t seem too upset by any of this but Carol WILL NOT STAND for a fashion faux pas taking place on her watch, so she politely asks the pirates to staple hers to the centre of her dress’ neckline, not on the side like everyone else’s. They comply because when Jennifer Coolidge asks you to do something, you do it.
- Darcy and Tom try to take out one of the pirates by throwing a mosquito net over his head, spraying him in the eyes with hair spray, and throwing the empty can at his face. Darcy was already dubious about the plan because it has, in her words, “too many steps.” She was right, just not for the right reasons. The pirate is wearing goggles and most of the hairspray goes in Tom’s face. The pirate takes them both captive.
- They escape by setting fire to the hairspray on his face. “That’s why you only have a plan with one step!” Darcy says proudly. This is where she gets the first of many grenades that she’ll use to ruin the pirates’ plan (and lives). Later in the movie she casually remarks that she, “Got four of them … Got them to stop, you know, being alive.”
- The pirates want Darcy’s rich dad Robert (played by Cheech Marin) to transfer them $45 million dollars. I’m starting to worry these pirates aren’t very good at maths, or general negotiation skills. (Not that I’m good enough at either to be judging them.) They know Robert is worth $60 million — are they happy to rob him for all he’s worth, minus $15 million? If I was going to Google the attendees of a luxury wedding to find my next mark, I would want to make it worth my while. There’s a whole pirate crew to pay!
- What I’m learning is that Shotgun Wedding is Jennifer Lopez’s movie and they cast Josh Duhamel because the director realised a movie about a wedding needed a groom. His character is one step above a cardboard cutout; he’s there to set up her jokes and comment on how cool she is, which is actually what all male actors should aspire to do.
- Case in point: after their big “a-ha” moment when they decide to go all in to save the hostages, Darcy is wearing a wedding dress and combat boots, and carrying a shotgun and Carol’s cake knife while Tom has… a bandaged hand and a quippy one liner.
- Garbage man alert! Tom knew the resort had been attacked by pirates in the past and not only booked it anyway but kept it a secret from Darcy. She’s understandably angry and he decides to give himself up to atone. There are some holes in this plan, but it also seems like he might have another better, secret plan up his sleeve. Which is great, but maybe he should tell Darcy about it?? Poor communication is where all of the problems in their relationship stem from!
- Tom’s secret plan is to reveal Sean as the mastermind behind the takeover. Our count rises to two garbage men, more if you include the rest of the pirates and Robert, who left Darcy’s mum to have sex with younger women.
- Iconic Jennifer Coolidge line check: “He didn’t RSVP!”
- Case in point #2: Darcy bursts through a secret trapdoor to take the pirates by surprise. After making up with Tom and very nearly accidentally shooting her sister, she holds the pirates at gunpoint.
- In a beautiful display of teamwork (relationship metaphor!), Darcy and Tom rush the two remaining pirates and get their last grenade off them. One pirate legs it, to which Carol responds by picking up a submachine gun and shooting at him. It’s the most iconic moment in the entire movie, perhaps the history of cinema, and my new Slack profile picture.
- Tom, a professional baseball player, hits the grenade with a makeshift bat and blows up the runaway pirate. I called this 57 minutes ago when Darcy used the first grenade shortly before someone reminded us about Tom’s failing baseball career, but it’s still magnificent.
- After the climactic showdown ends with Sean getting sucked into his helicopter’s blades, Darcy re-proposes to Tom and they get married on the beach as they originally planned. The end credits scene is a beautiful throwback to ’90s dance party endings, the perfect end to this perfect movie. (No, I won’t be opening this up for debate.)