The Movie Guru: Romantic hits and misses in ‘Shotgun Wedding,’ ‘You People’￼
Shotgun Wedding (Amazon Prime)
“Shotgun Wedding” isn’t exactly a good movie, but it is a likeable one.
The movie, a romantic comedy where an island wedding is attacked by pirates, feels like a bunch of cliches thrown into a blender. Our future bride and groom (Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel) argue before the wedding because of ridiculous families, a poorly-timed ex-boyfriend, and the kind of easily solvable misunderstandings that only seem to happen in romance movies. The comedy is broad enough that a grenade is used as a slapstick element on more than one occasion.
Still, the movie develops a surprising amount of heart. Lopez and Duhamel are both likeable, even during the early awkward stretches, and their characters get real at exactly the right moment. The ridiculous families get their own opportunities to be endearing, the absurdity turning genuinely sweet during a few key scenes. The action also kicks up a little bit, along with a fun third act twist that actually had a little bit of foreshadowing.
Lopez and Duhamel don’t seem like they work together on paper, but they have a low-key chemistry that works as well during the action/comedy scenes as it does the romance. Jennifer Coolidge continues to do her thing and do it well, and Sonia Braga is once again the classiest thing on the screen. Lenny Kravitz was an unexpected casting choice, but he delivers. D’Arcy Carden is, as always, an absolute delight.
As weddings go, the final result is kind of haphazard. But you’ll have fun, and sometimes that’s all that matters.
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Grade: Two and a half stars
You People (Netflix)
“You People” means well.
The movie, one of those family comedy/dramas where an engaged couple struggles to deal with their families, has higher ambitions than most in the genre. It’s taking on the whole cultural divide between black and white people, asking seriously if two people trying to cross that bridge can really understand each other enough to build a life together. The fact that it answers that question in an ultimately hopeful way is important, and there are a lot of elements in the movie that will hopefully cause people to examine themselves and their perspectives.
But two much of the movie feels like homework. Though the opening is oddly sweet and the last stretch an optimistic romance-movie ending, the rest feels like being trapped in the worst family dinner you’ve ever experienced. Important things are happening, but there were stretches where I had to grit my teeth to get to the end.
Eddie Murphy is more restrained than he has been in years, and while David Duchovney is mostly just there it’s always nice to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Jonah Hill is unexpectedly good in a serious role, and while he doesn’t exactly have physical chemistry with Lauren London the two do have a low-key sweetness to them. Their moments were, without fail, the most genuine in the movie.
There are definitely things to like here. But if the movie had broken up the tough stretches a little bit, there would have been more.
Grade: Two stars
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at email@example.com.