“I read a lot of romantic comedies, obviously,” Lopez told Rotten Tomatoes ahead of the film’s release. “But this had the action element, which I had never done. It was a little more broad. I felt like, Oh, I could get my Lucille Ball on here! I just felt like there was something new to explore here for me that I hadn’t done yet.”
The Prime Video film centers on successful lawyer Darcy Rivera (Lopez) and her fiancé, minor league baseball player Tom Fowler (Josh Duhamel), as they gear up for their tropical island–set destination wedding. With both of their families in tow, and the ceremony looming, things get thrown into bloody chaos when a group of pirates crash the festivities, leaving it up to Darcy and Tom to save the day — and their relationship.
The idea of Lopez and Duhamel as a troubled couple battling criminals sparks enough intrigue by itself to get viewers to tune in, but add a supporting cast that includes Jennifer Coolidge playing Tom’s mom, Carol Fowler; Sonia Braga as Darcy’s mom, Renata; Cheech Marin as Darcy’s dad, Robert Rivera; D’Arcy Carden playing Harriet, Robert’s new girlfriend; Desmin Borges, as Tom’s best man, Ricky; Callie Hernandez as Jamie, Darcy’s sister; Selena Tan as Margy, the hotel manager; and Lenny Kravitz as Darcy’s flashy ex, Sean, and you’ve got a wild rom-com romp.
(Photo by Ana Carballosa/Prime Video)
“I always describe it as ‘Die Hard at a wedding,'” said co-star Carden.
“I describe it as ‘rom-combat,'” Marin added.
Early on in Shotgun Wedding, Darcy and Tom are separated from the rest of the wedding party, setting up the action-packed scenario that sets the couple up as the John McClanes of the story. And thanks to the movie’s scaled-down cast, insular methods in which it was shot, and locations — almost all of it was shot at ÀNI Dominican Republic, an all-inclusive resort in Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic — the result is a surprising balance between jungle skirmishes and hotel comedy.
For Tan, who traveled all the way from Singapore to shoot her scenes, it wasn’t just work; it was one heck of a surreal vacation experience.
“We all housed together in these little, sort of, Covid bubbles, as they called it,” she said. “I was there for two months in the same villa with Lenny Kravitz, Jennifer Coolidge, D’Arcy Carden, and Sonia Braga. It was mind blowing. We just stayed in this villa together; we couldn’t do anything else. We had to be together all the time. So, we would just go to work and then come back to this gorgeous villa owned by this Canadian billionaire. And it was just surreal, and really beautiful.”
(Photo by Prime Video)
It’d be easy to compare the ambiance of Shotgun Wedding to, say, The White Lotus. Both productions were shot during the height of the pandemic at a remote location, and feature Jennifer Coolidge in scene-stealing roles. But aside for those commonalities, Marin acknowledged the opportunity to get back out and perform, and do so in such a lovely place, as reason enough to sign on to the project.
The hotel set is where varying degrees of family conflict play out throughout the film, while the main story follows Darcy and Tom through physical challenges as they do everything they can to stay alive and save their loved ones. The dynamic between the two stars, be it their comedic timing or chemistry, is the main engine that drives the story.
Aside from the action element, which Lopez described as, “zany, zany, zany,” and the sheer fact that Lopez gets to disrupt the expected visual of her on-screen in a wedding dress — she accessorizes her gown with a loaded shotgun, here — she points to the emotional core of the story as the other component that drew her to the project.
(Photo by Prime Video)
“There is this really great emotional story at the core of these two people really figuring out if they are suited to spend their lives together and discovering each other once again,” Lopez added. “And as she sheds this huge dress that didn’t feel like herself, she sheds the layers of being more honest with him. This is what I want. And, This is who I am. So, I thought that was very interesting.”
Duhamel noted that Lopez looked pristine throughout the shoot, while he was beat up and bloodied.
“Why am I always like a wet dog? She’s always looking like Sophia Loren,” he said.
(Photo by Ana Carballosa/Lionsgate)
It’s pretty safe to say Shotgun Wedding isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. Blood is spilled, things explode, high-powered weaponry is fired. At times, even, it feels as if the movie is giving a wink to the audience as an understanding that they’re being taken on an unexpectedly wild ride. This isn’t The Wedding Planner.
Reminiscent of action rom-coms of the ’80s (Romancing the Stone, comes to mind), it feels as if Shotgun Wedding is here to remind audiences that it’s OK to let loose and have a bit of fun, because, from what we were hearing, the entire cast had a ball.
“Everybody had been locked up for so long,” Marin added. “We were going stir crazy. And then, OK, but your reward is now you get to go to the most beautiful location in the world and have the best people wait on you. And then every once in a while you have to be in a shot with Jennifer Lopez.”