Review – J. Lo’s Packin’ Heat (“Shotgun Wedding”)

Talk about your troubled shoots! In 2019, Ryan Reynolds was supposed to have been the lead opposite Jennifer Lopez, but he had to drop out. Who was recast in 2020? Armie Hammer! Uh-oh! Yeah, so he was fired because he likes ribs (giggle) and John Duhamel was hired in 2021.

An exclusive Amazon Prime Studios film, we find a wedding from Hell going from bad to worse. J.Lo stars as Darcy Rivera, a wary bride-to-be who’s supposed to marry the fastidious ex-baseball player, Tom Fowler (Duhamel) on a small Phillipino tropical resort island. The whole cast of crazy in-laws all show up, too: Darcy’s super-critical mother, Renata (Sonja Braga), along with her wealthy father (Cheech Marin) and his new younger girlfriend (D’arcy Carden). Then there’s Tom’s lovable mom (Jennifer Coolidge) and her film-everything dad (Steve Coulter). And don’t rule out Darcy’s maid-of-honor (Callie Hernandez) and sister (Melissa Hunter–who has a bunch of Wednesday Addams videos on YouTube). And for fun, there’s Darcy’s ex-fiancé, ultra-hot-looking, Sean (Lenny Kravitz)

Anyway, just as this couple are thinking of calling off their wedding, who should crash their party? Pirates!! And not the fun ones like Captain Jack Sparrow but the kind with guns that hold Darcy’s wealthy dad hostage for $35 million! As all the party guests are held at gunpoint, Darcy and Tom are running around the jungle island trying to A) not get caught and B) find help. It’s hijinks galore as these two constantly bickering and arguing couple are out-racing the bad guys while the other guests are having problems of their own. The third act gets crazier when a twisty reveal is thrown in and the plot gets a whole lot nuttier.

Combine Bridesmaids, last year’s The Lost City, and the Hawaiian wedding scene from Sonic 2, and you have this generic action/comedy from novice screenwriter, Mark Hammer (Two Night Stand). It hits all the beats that you’ve seen before (bickering couples, bickering parents, mean pirates, horny partygoers, ordinary people becoming action heroes, lots of ad-libbing), but this film has something extra going for it. The comedy in it isn’t forced or dumbed down like in all those B-movies you see on cable late at night. And the action is, while expected, still fun. It had me laughing throughout the movie, which was hard to do since I’ve seen this kind of film before. . . three times! Director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect, Sisters) keeps the action going and lets the actors loose with their ad-libs, especially Coolidge who steals every scene she’s in! Even the nasty, evil pirates are given a humorous side.

The real icing on the cake here is Jennifer Lopez. After a string of flops and serious roles for her (Marry Me, Hustlers, Second Act, Gigli), this movie lets her off the chain and lets her have some real fun being a neurotic bridezilla that looks great touting a shotgun. The third act alone shows off her prowess as a potential badass action hero. And her counterpart, Duhamel, really needs to do more of this. He is so good in a comedic role that we never knew! He’s been resigned in the past in doing voice-overs (Batman: The Long Halloween) and many TV shows (Veronica Mars, The Mighty Ducks). Duhamel has got great comedy timing and needs to dip his feet into this pond again. It’s a cute, fun little movie that you’ve seen before but it’s entertaining and full of laughs. 

**Now streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime

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