<strong>Hollywood actress-singer Jennifer Lopez isn’t your typical ‘blushing bride’ in ‘Shotgun Wedding’</strong>

Hollywood actress-singer Jennifer Lopez isn’t your typical ‘blushing bride’ in ‘Shotgun Wedding’

“Is that genetics or is that like Pilates?” asks the cheeky mother-in-law (Jennifer Coolidge) to the bodacious soon-to-be bride played efficiently and wickedly by Jennifer Lopez in a scene from their latest romantic adventure, ‘Shotgun Wedding’, out in UAE cinemas on December 29.

We don’t get a concrete answer from the movie, since it is always awkward when a borderline-snoopy family member stumbles into your private space as you goof around with your fiance, but when Gulf News got an exclusive opportunity to speak to Lopez and her dishy co-star, Josh Duhamel, over a Zoom call from North America we were compelled to ask her the same question.

Lopez, the 53-year-old global pop icon and the undisputed queen of romantic comedies in Hollywood, spins that genre on its head with her zany action-fuelled caper ‘Shotgun Wedding’ and kicks some serious behind — and that too in a billowing white wedding gown.

“Genetics, no. It was weightlifting, cardio, and all of those things! And some Pilates too!” said Lopez with a laugh.

Well, all those hours breaking a sweat and pumping iron worked.

Lopez is in top form in this stunt-filled romp about a handsome couple who head to an idyllic Island in the Philippines (the Dominican Republic is dressed up as this South East Asian archipelagic nation) with their beloved family and friends for their dreamy nuptials.

But the biggest day of their life is hijacked by a bunch of gun-wielding pirates who hold their entire wedding party hostage. And it’s up to the jittery bride and groom — Darcy and Tom — to save the day and evade their ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ vows.

“I have done a lot of romantic comedies … I liked that this [‘Shotgun Wedding’] had the action aspect to it. To me, that was something that was going to kind of separate it from something that I had ever done … Josh and I have that banter and fun with each other … At the core, it’s a love story with a lot of bonkers sort of action,” Lopez told Gulf News. And filming in a tropical paradise like the Dominican Republic was like being on a paid holiday.

“We can’t believe it! They paid us for this because it was the most beautiful place I have ever worked in,” said Lopez.

So was she trying to reinvent the fading romantic genre in Hollywood, which seems to be in desperate need of a shake-up? In our world filled with superhero franchises and special-effect bonanzas, the heft of stories about love triumphing all has been brought into question. But Lopez, who has starred in a robust slew of rom-coms’ like ‘The Wedding Planner’, ‘Maid In Manhattan’, ‘Marry Me’, and ‘Monster-In-Law’, doesn’t seem to carry any such burden of resurrecting any cinematic genre.

“I don’t know. I feel there has been a few rom-coms out in the past couple of months that were nice and were kind of reviving it. And we are always trying to push the envelope of what we do. Sometimes, it can all feel like the same ending and it’s expected. For me, it’s all about you can take them [your viewers] on the journey and how many kinds of surprising, weird things you can do along the way so that people can enjoy … As you said, it’s a good ride and a good romp,” said Lopez.Gulf News had exclusive access to the movie’s screener before this interview and we can vouch that Jason Moore’s directorial has a few surprises up its sleeve.

For one, Lopez — who plays the fierce Darcy — isn’t the quintessential bridezilla who craves an extravagant destination wedding. Instead, actor Josh Duhamel’s character Tom seems to be exhibiting all those classic signs of a groomzilla. His penchant for his hand-painted golden pineapple centerpiece gave us a hint of how his character is singularly focused on making everything pitch perfect. In the film, Duhamel plays a minor-league baseball player, who just got cut, and is now training all his energies to whip up the picture-perfect wedding.

“We sort of flipped the stereotype in this one. Because typically the girl is the one who wants to have a big wedding, but not in this one. This is me. I wanted this big, gorgeous wedding and all that DIY stuff. I did all of the stuff to make this wedding perfect … I don’t know if I had seen that before in a movie where the dude really wants the perfect wedding,” said Duhamel in this joint interview with Lopez.

His co-star pitches in with: “Just like he took to baseball, he became obsessed with a wedding.”

The movie also touches upon with a light stroke how stressful weddings can get with families and sometimes your dashing ex (an on-point Lenny Kravitz) gatecrashing your wedding.

Apparently, Duhamel’s biggest fear was that he didn’t want to make his finicky groom act “too feminine”.

“That was my main aim because you don’t want to look feminine throughout this movie,” said Duhamel. Again, Lopez gently points out: “gender is a spectrum”.

The movie also cheekily addresses how women don’t always want the big fat wedding with decadent trappings. A poignant scene where Lopez’s character Darcy frustratingly reminds her much younger wedding-crazy fiance that she doesn’t want a big wedding and has already done those loops hits home. In the film, this isn’t her first marriage and that novelty of having an extravagant do has understandably worn off. Lopez reminds us that this romantic action comedy is also a portrait of modern-day relationships where every bride isn’t your typical ‘blushing bride’.

Incidentally, Lopez recently got another shot at wedded bliss when she married actor Ben Affleck this summer. Lopez famously dated the star in the early 2000s but their engagement was called off in 2004. She was previously married to singer Marc Anthony, with whom she shares two children.

“This film is very kind of modern … [it touches upon] people who wait before getting married because we are more career and goal-oriented in our lives. There are a lot of people who are like, you know, don’t feel like the blushing bride at 20. They’re not getting married till 30 or 40 or, you know, sometimes 50 years old. So it was something to be addressed in the movie because both of us are not in our 20s here. And so that kind of made it added a little bit of extra drama to it,” said Lopez.

And as Duhamel says, ‘JMO, the director, not JLO (as Lopez is lovingly called by her adoring army of fans) did an amazing job of balancing the romantic and the ridiculous’.

“He [Jason Moore] always talked about squeezing a little lemon on that sugar. So when it gets a little bit too sweet, he squeezed a little lemon on and he did a beautiful job of it,” said Duhamel.

If we were to compare ‘Shotgun Wedding’ to a pastry, then a fluffy lemon meringue — that’s not overly sweet or sour — will be an apt comparison. And the pulsating action in this film isn’t shabby. The scene where the bride and groom dressed in their dramatic and voluminous wedding attire takes on villainous pirates called for some serious dexterity. Was it as smooth as it looked?

“I was a sweaty mess the entire movie,” said Duhamel with a laugh.

“It really was hot and we are in the middle of the Dominican Republic and we were all over the island,” said Duhamel. But Lopez, one of the world’s most glamorous and gifted divas, took to the tropical terrain with ease.

“She looks like a hothouse flower [a hothouse flower is a flower that isn’t hardy enough to grow under natural conditions], but she isn’t!” said Duhamel. Apparently, Lopez found it uncomfortable, but “really fun” to throw pirates over the cliff and more. And that collective fun and conviviality shine through in ‘Shotgun Wedding’.