Pop Culture Happy Hour
A silly 'Shotgun Wedding' sends J.Lo on an adventure
LINDA HOLMES, HOST:
The action comedy "Shotgun Wedding" delivers on its title in the sense that it's got a wedding and it's got a lot of guns. The film stars Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel as a couple whose wedding day at a beautiful resort is interrupted by pirates who take their guests hostage. Will they save the guests? Will they save themselves? Will they ever actually get married? And just how great will J.Lo look the entire time? I'm Linda Holmes, and today we're talking about "Shotgun Wedding" on POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. Joining me today is Margaret H. Willison, communications manager of Not Sorry Productions. Welcome back, Margaret.
MARGARET H WILLISON: Hi, Linda.
HOLMES: Also joining me today is writer Ella Ceron, whose book "Viva Lola Espinosa" will be out in April and is available for pre-order now. Go preorder. Hello, Ella.
ELLA CERON: Hi. Thanks for having me back.
HOLMES: And rounding out the panel is NPR Consider This producer Marc Rivers. Hi, Marc.
MARC RIVERS, BYLINE: Hey, Linda. Thanks for having me.
HOLMES: All right. Well, if you liked the fact that the movie "Plane" is about a plane, you'll be happy to know that "Shotgun Wedding" is also as advertised. It stars Jennifer Lopez as Darcy and Josh Duhamel as Tom. They're a couple we meet in the middle of their destination wedding weekend at a beautiful resort in the Philippines. Their guests include Jennifer Coolidge as Tom's mother, Sonia Braga, and Cheech Marin as Darcy's divorced parents, D'Arcy Carden as her dad's new girlfriend, and Lenny Kravitz as Darcy's ex, Sean.
The wedding weekend comes apart when a band of pirates attacks the wedding and takes all the guests as hostages while Tom and Darcy, who manage to get away, try to figure out how to rescue themselves and their loved ones, maybe even pull off a real wedding. You know, it sounds silly when you say it that way. It's streaming on Amazon Prime starting today. And we should note that Amazon supports NPR and pays to distribute some of our content.
How did this film do, Margaret, meeting your expectations?
WILLISON: So what I liked about this film is that it is exactly as good as it wants to be, which is about 9% better than it needs to be, which was about 27% better than I expected it to be. So I really enjoyed it. Am I going to remember anything other than how J.Lo looked in most of the shots? Like, not really, but I feel like they did a great job with casting this film. They did a good job with giving jokes to the cast they had somehow managed to pull off. I was pretty entertained throughout. Sometimes the action was a little too action-y to go with the comedy, but other than that, I enjoyed myself.
HOLMES: All right. I don't expect you, Ella, to come up with percentages, but where did you come down on this movie?
CERON: I actually had the inverse reaction, in that I was expecting something that this movie absolutely was not, which is probably my fault. I did watch "The Wedding Planner" and "Maid In Manhattan" prior to watching the screener, which is, like, the holy duology of Jennifer Lopez rom-coms.
CERON: And so I was expecting, like, a comedy of manners rom-coms, which is what those two are. They're very quiet films. This was not that.
CERON: And I think I got my hopes up to that, like, golden-era of Jennifer Lopez, queen of the rom-com. I just am nostalgic for the kind of rom-com where the guy gives her a look and is just enamored with her and obsessed with her. And I really had no idea why this couple was together.
RIVERS: They might as well have just met, like, when the movie started. I had...
WILLISON: Yeah, no.
CERON: You know, and, like, that could have been interesting. I think there were so many potential interesting rom-coms within this movie. I would have preferred a rom-com with Jennifer Lopez and Lenny Kravitz. How did they meet? How did they date? Like, give me that - or a rom-com, which I understand is closer to - what is it, "Ticket To Paradise"? Like, Cheech Marin and Sonia Braga.
CERON: Why we picked Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel, even though they are both beautiful and run in slow motion beautifully, I'm still confused. But they did look great.
HOLMES: Yeah. I think it is definitely - we should definitely say, to me, it's not a rom-com.
HOLMES: It's an action comedy. And I think it's very interesting that you came away with the impression that it was a rom-com, because I came away with the impression from what I had seen about it that it was more action than it turned out to be, that it was going to be more violent than it turned out to be, a more violent action comedy than it actually is. Marc, I ran into you outside the theater. Tell the people what you thought.
RIVERS: Yeah. I mean, Linda and I, we talked about how this is January - this is kind of the dumping season for Hollywood. It's kind of where they put all their lesser efforts.
RIVERS: And as a film buff, you know, you kind of expect to be like Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Revenant," just bruised and bloodied from the holiday season and, you know, hoping that you can come across a horse carcass to kind of go into to kind of warm yourself...
RIVERS: ..You know. And I guess that's what "Shotgun Wedding" was for me...
RIVERS: ...Where it's like, OK, J.Lo on her own is going to sustain me in this moment. But there's a level of basic competence that I hope for with these kind of movies, like, an expectation that the filmmakers actually care or appreciate, like, the material. Like I went in thinking this could be maybe "Die Hard" at a wedding, but instead of like, just John McClane, you know, Holly Gennero gets to join in on the fun festivities. And, you know, what you said, it was like an action comedy. I don't think there was much effort in the action or the comedy. I think...
RIVERS: ...The filmmaking just seemed to undermine it at every turn. Like, there was a haphazardness to the editing, to the cutting. Going from over-the-shoulder to group shots to two shots. And I just didn't understand why they were making these decisions, if only just to make the movie seem livelier and flashier than it is. I was really hoping there would be some romance to this. I think the rom-com has kind of been flatlining for years now, and every once in a while you get a Sandra Bullock or Channing Tatum with defibrillators trying to resuscitate it.
RIVERS: But we're still kind of waiting for it to come back to life. And this did not do it. You know, I loved J. Lo. She was very game for this. Like, she was working hard. But the director did not seem to be working hard for her. She was giving all the effort and I didn't think the movie was.
HOLMES: Yeah. I will just disclose at the top, I had a really good time at this movie.
HOLMES: I thought it was a good time at the movies.
RIVERS: The crowd was into it. Like, it...
WILLISON: Yeah, I was into it.
HOLMES: Even though this is going to be on Amazon, I saw it at a theater. And first of all, and I - this is the kind of thing that is always tricky to talk about, but, like, the movie is an hour and 40 minutes. Is - it is close enough to an hour and a half that I will think of it as an hour and a half movie.
HOLMES: It does not feel long to me. But because I didn't expect it to be in the rom-com genre, because of what I had seen of it, the fact that the relationship between Darcy and Tom didn't really do very much for me. I think the couple of scenes that are supposed to be, like, big relationship scenes are pretty bad and...
HOLMES: ...Not very interesting and not - and it - kind of the conflict doesn't seem to be supported by the story. I think if you look at this as a relationship story, it is not successful. But I think if you look at it as a star vehicle for Jennifer Lopez - who I think is actually pretty funny in this - there were...
HOLMES: ...Some moments where I really thought, like, this is her being kind of more freely comedic than sometimes I've seen her get to be. It's very, very devoted to showing you how great she looks. There is basically an entire scene, the purpose of which is, she's got a great butt.
HOLMES: Like, that is the reason the scene exists.
CERON: Every single close up, like, she's just, like, soft-lit and does not - like, Josh Duhamel's bloodied and has dirt all over him and she's just, like, perfect foundation...
CERON: ...Is soft-lit. The director of photography - like, kudos - understood the assignment when it came to making sure that Jennifer Lopez found her...
CERON: ...J.Lo skin care - ...
CERON: ...Looked great.
RIVERS: Honest, the movie sort of just stayed in the sequence of her in the bedroom...
RIVERS: ...With the - just, like, the worst acting that Josh Duhamel in that movie was pretending that he was not interested in J.Lo posing on the bed.
HOLMES: I agree. I agree.
CERON: And more interested in, like, pineapples, I guess.
WILLISON: The joke in that scene that actually really landed for me is she's like, oh, I'm reaching for this thing on a high shelf, and I can't get it. And he just goes, why is it so sexy when you can't reach things on high shelves? And he really delivers the line. I was, like, Josh Duhamel earned his whole paycheck right there.
RIVERS: I actually think it's an interesting kind of flip. I mean, I was watching the halftime documentary that J.Lo had last year about - it was kind of a twin narrative of her kind of, like, Oscar campaign for "Hustlers" - a much better movie, by the way - and also her halftime show with Shakira. And you just forget how much she was - made the butt - sorry - butt of a joke - no pun intended - through the tabloids, you know, in - on the late-night shows. And just the poise and composure that she had, just throughout her career to kind of just withstand all that, and it's kind of just, and ignore it, I think is kind of underappreciated. But it's so interesting to see her just flaunt it. Like, I am 50, and I look great.
RIVERS: And for a mainstream kind of industry that now is nearly devoid of sexuality and sex, I almost combusted in the theater. I couldn't...
RIVERS: ...Believe this was happening. I - it was a better special effect than any Marvel movie that I'd seen recently.
WILLISON: Hear, hear.
HOLMES: The other way in which I think it's an interesting flip - look. I like Josh Duhamel. I think he's a personable, capable, kind of regular actor.
HOLMES: Like a kind of midrange white dude. Like...
HOLMES: But you put Josh Duhamel in a movie partly because he doesn't bring anything too particular to the movie.
HOLMES: Do you know what I mean? Like, he doesn't really have any particular quality. He really is just like a dude. And I think it's interesting to see a - an action movie where you have this woman who's very kind of glamorous and charisma - to me, she was very charismatic - with this guy who's kind of, like, fine, right? It's not the actor's fault. There's just not that much to that part. I've seen so many movies where there's, like, a dude who's super charismatic and glammed up, and he's kind of admired, physically, for his, like, big, tough whatever. And then the woman is kind of an underwritten role. It was interesting to me. I'm not championing it as, like, a victory for feminism or...
HOLMES: ...Anything like that. It just was an interesting thing to me to see her with this kind of vehicle that puts her front and center in that particular way.
CERON: Yeah. This movie has gone through a lot of stages in development. And it was originally conceived - I think Ryan Reynolds was going to play the Josh Duhamel part.
RIVERS: I think Armie Hammer first, right? Or was it...
CERON: No. Ryan Reynolds...
RIVERS: It was Ryan Reynolds first?
CERON: ...Then Armie Hammer.
RIVERS: Oh, OK. OK.
CERON: He's also a producer. And the minute I saw Ryan Reynolds' name on the credits, I was like, oh, it makes so much sense. I can see...
RIVERS: His character makes more sense.
CERON: You can kind of see Ryan Reynolds having Deadpool...
CERON: ...Levels of fun with just the gore and...
CERON: ...The weird...
RIVERS: Josh Duhamel's just more like, I'm just happy to be here.
WILLISON: But I was kind of grateful for that. I was kind of grateful that Ryan Reynolds wasn't there so that J.Lo could have a star turn and J.Lo could show how funny she would be. Because I think if Ryan Reynolds had been there, it would have just been like, this is a Ryan Reynolds movie and J.Lo is here also.
HOLMES: More wisecracky.
WILLISON: And this time, J.Lo got to be the one with the wisecracks. J.Lo got to do the extended comedy bits where she has to hold on to a grenade to keep it from exploding. She got to show her stuff, not just how great her body still looks, but also her impeccable comic timing and her movie star charisma.
RIVERS: Well, I feel like there hasn't been a male counterpart to kind of equal her poise, her competence, her sexiness on screen. She has not had an equal sparring partner since George Clooney in "Out Of Sight" in 1998.
WILLISON: Exactly, right.
RIVERS: And I think it's pretty telling that her first good role since that movie - it was like 20-year gap - there were no men to equal her. She was just scamming men in "Hustlers."
RIVERS: There were no possible men to compare her with, she had to scam them. I'm worried, you know, after "Marry Me" with the perfectly affable, but not remarkable, Owen Wilson in the male role, I'm worried they're going to go another 20 years of J.Lo kind of not being utilized, that these movies are going to make her do too much work for fewer rewards.
CERON: I mean, I'm a Bennifer truther, like...
CERON: ...I love them till the day I die, but obviously the answer, then, is to put them in a movie together.
RIVERS: ...They did - we did try that, and that was the...
CERON: I'm aware...
RIVERS: ...The nadir that was out of the box.
WILLISON: That's a real monkey's paw situation as a Bennifer truther.
CERON: Yeah, but like, "Gigli" also like paid off its dividends in that you can always reference "Gigli." Like...
CERON: ...That movie made its money back by the amount of time we reference it even today, as being a bad movie.
HOLMES: Yeah. I do want to talk about one other thing before we get out of this conversation. Which is, it did strike me that like after "Plane," this the second time in like two weeks that I've seen a sort of an undifferentiated mob of Asian bad guys kind of descend upon people and cause havoc and be just sort of...
CERON: Intentionally anonymous because they have their masks on the whole time.
HOLMES: They're intentionally anonymous. They have masks on the entire time. And you and I, Ella, were talking about the fact that this is supposed to be in or near the Philippines, but it was filmed in the Dominican Republic, right?
CERON: Yeah. Which I think also could have been an interesting choice of its own. It would have made the movie very different, I think. But the biggest problem I had with this movie was how uneasy I felt about the fact that these pirates are these intentionally anonymized...
CERON: ...Indeterminately Asian. Not to give a spoiler away, but you do kind of - it becomes determinant later. But they have no backstory. You don't understand why they're pirates. There's actually a scene in which Jennifer Coolidge, bless her heart, stands up...
CERON: ...And is like, I'm trying to humanize myself so they don't kill me.
HOLMES: I know.
CERON: But the really nasty undercurrent is that they don't ever humanize the pirates.
CERON: And they do hold on to the, like, ways in which they maul and kill them, like...
CERON: ...In extreme close up. Which, given the times that we're in, feels almost willfully irresponsible. Given the rise of worry and fear, especially within the Asian American community, it does feel a little messy and a little remiss. And I don't know what this all is, to be perfectly honest. Obviously, I'm not a member of the AAPI community, so I wouldn't want to speak for them. But it did just kind of strike me as one of those things of like, mmm, something is potentially not a hundred here.
HOLMES: Yeah, we did talk about this with "Plane" 'cause it is a kind of a long-standing problem with action movies, to be attacked by a group of bad guys who are, you know - have little to differentiate them from each other. But I - it really stood out to me that this was twice in just a couple of weeks, that it was this really like genuinely, truly undifferentiated group of guys.
RIVERS: And I also thought it was interesting. We've had so many portraits of like, essentially, eat the rich kind of movies and TV shows, that this movie was kind of like, actually, maybe let the rich win for a change, and at the expense of these anonymous pirates. I thought...
RIVERS: Locals, as it were. So I thought that was kind of interesting.
HOLMES: It's definitely, I think, a pretty messy movie once you start to think about it. Even though coming out of the theater, I was like, it's a fun movie. But it is a messy movie with a pretty messy story. Well, we do want to know what you think about "Shotgun Wedding." Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/pchh. Up next, we're going to talk about what's making us happy this week.
Now it is time for our favorite segment of this week and every week, what's making us happy this week. Ella Ceron, what's making you happy this week?
CERON: What's making me happy this week, I was late to reading "Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow" by Gabrielle Zevin. The minute I finished it, I was texting all my friends like, you have to read this book. It destroyed me. I hope it destroys you too. It's just a beautiful story about two, going on three, friends who develop a software games company, and you can really see the amount of research that in - went into it about coding, about all of the different levels of what it means to run a video game company. But it's also about love. It's about Los Angeles, which is where I'm from, which I really, really adored. It's about identity and the way you kind of figure it all out. It's about so many things beyond, like, what's on the tin which is also what was really surprising and nice. And the ways in which she kind of does the time travel of it all is just really, really wonderful, and I'm so happy and, like, more fulfilled that I read it.
HOLMES: All right. Thank you very much, Ella Ceron. That is "Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow" by Gabrielle Zevin. Thank you very much. Margaret Willison, what is making you happy this week?
WILLISON: Well, what's making me happy this week is my job. My title is communications manager, but my company does a lot of things, and we run trips and classes. And for example, we are going to be running a summer camp weekend in upstate New York this June. And my role as faculty means I can teach a workshop called Crying about Music with Margaret, and I am just really excited to get to talk about the songs you hear in a CVS that leave you just, like, emotionally devastated out of nowhere. (Laughter) You're just looking at a tube of Maybelline like it just killed your brother.
RIVERS: To connect back to J.Lo, I mean, Selena, "Dreaming Of You," like...
RIVERS: ...I hear that in a CVS, I got to go out before I embarrass myself. The tears are going to start streaming.
CERON: I hear that anywhere, like...
CERON: ...Anything for Selena's.
HOLMES: All right. Thank you very much, Margaret Willison. Marc Rivers, what's making you happy this week?
RIVERS: So I'm going to say the Oscar race. So by the time this airs, the Oscar nominations will have been announced. And I know the Oscars don't matter. Having art compete against itself is an inherently ridiculous thing. Either way, I love seeing, like, stories like Ke Huy Quan, the actor in "Everything Everywhere All At Once." This is an actor who started out as a top performer in the '80s and then, of course, Hollywood was too racist to give him more opportunities and he kind of disappeared. And for him to kind of come back with this great role in "Everything Everywhere All At Once" that's also kind of a contender for many other Oscars is just wonderful. He gave this great speech to the Golden Globe.
And then I'm also just here for the absurdities of the Oscar race. Like, seeing Cate Blanchett show up on "Hot Ones," of all things, is just like the greatest thing ever. And I feel like now every actor who wants an Oscar should go on "Hot Ones." Like, I don't care who it is. Daniel Day Lewis comes back from retirement. I need him on "Hot Ones." I'm rooting for Ke Huy Quan. I'm rooting for Angela Bassett in "Black Panther." I'm rooting for Michelle Yeoh. It's - you know, it's kind of like you don't support a team, you support the players. I'm - there are many players that I'm supporting - I'm rooting for at the Oscars.
HOLMES: All right. That sounds very good. Thank you very much, Marc Rivers, a little thing called the Oscar race. As many people know, I have been watching a lot of movies, many of which are older movies, but some of which are more recent movies that I missed, and I recently watched the 2022 film "Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris." This stars Lesley Manville which is extraordinary, and then you realize that it also has Isabelle Huppert, which really feels like massively, like, overcasting for what is really a relatively simple story about this woman who sees a Dior gown and decides that she wants a Dior gown.
She's a cleaning woman. She doesn't have a lot of money. She's freshly widowed. Her name is Mrs. Harris, and she goes to Paris, and she decides that she wants to get this Dior gown. And in a way, it is pure fairy tale, and I think for a lot of people, it is just a little too twinkly. I think there have been people for whom the warmth of it...
RIVERS: Isabelle Huppert and warmth is interesting.
HOLMES: It - well, she - obviously, she doesn't start out that way. As I have mentioned on Twitter, she kind of starts off as the big mistake, huge, shop person in "Pretty Woman," but she kind of - you know, eventually, her personality is revealed. The movie is kind of - as I said, it's pure fairy tale, but I think because of the charm of the people who are involved, especially Lesley Manville and Isabelle Huppert, I really did enjoy it. I think it is a kind of gratifying exercise in a well-made film that is pleasant on purpose to watch and experience. It is a happy movie. It is a movie where, even though it obviously comes out of grief - she's lost her husband. There's a lot of grief among all of the people in the film.
It is basically a happy movie, and I really was in the mood for a basically happy movie, particularly as award season came around. A lot of those movies are not that happy. So two thumbs-up from me for "Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris," which is now on VOD, and you can find it to rent and things like that. And that is what is making me happy this week.
If you want links for what we recommended, plus some additional recommendations, sign up for our newsletter. That's at npr.org/popculturenewsletter. That brings us to the end of our show. Margaret H. Willison, Ella Ceron, Marc Rivers, thanks to all of you for being here.
WILLISON: Thank you so much for having us.
CERON: Thank you.
RIVERS: Thank you.
HOLMES: This episode was produced by Candice Lim and edited by Jessica Reedy. Hello Come In provides our theme music. Thanks for listening to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. I'm Linda Holmes, and we'll see you all next week.
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