There’s nothing quite like following a perfect game in baseball. In the history of Major League Baseball, which spans 140 years and over 235,500 games, we’ve seen 23 perfect games pitched in total—none of which occurred in the last decade. I can remember exactly where I was when Randy Johnson threw a perfect game in 2004 for the Diamondbacks, turning on the radio to hear he was in the bottom of the eighth and listening along. But for every one that makes history, there are hundreds of others that get spoiled late in games. Suddenly you catch wind that so-and-so pitcher for such-and-such team is heading into the top of the seventh and you stop what you’re doing… It’s thrilling to follow, singular in the pressure. With every pitch, you hold your breath knowing that this could be the one to spoil the moment.
That’s how I felt by the end of SHOTGUN WEDDING watching Jennifer Coolidge.
Coolidge over the last two years has been admittedly easy to root for. Having had something of a renaissance culturally since Mike White re-introduced her with WHITE LOTUS, the ditzy blonde, bimbo, and MILF qualities that had defined so much of her career in the 2000s suddenly seemed subverted and matured (pardon the pun) in HBO’s hit resort drama. Yes, she got to nail signature moments of airhead comedy (“please, these gays are trying to murder me!” comes to mind) but ditziness had beautifully and skillfully transitioned to vapidness—both empty, but a raw, chilling hollowness to her now.
Coolidge has deserved all the praise she’s seen for the show and for whatever career renaissance could likely follow, though it should be noted that a post-WHITE LOTUS S1 trajectory that saw Netflix Christmas specials and Ryan Murphy fare felt decidedly like the path she was always destined to be on for better or worse. In that way, SHOTGUN WEDDING, a buried-to-streamers action rom com with Josh Duhmel and Jennifer Lopez, is in line with that path, inserting her as a role player and recognizable face amidst a sea of character actors, only now due to WHITE LOTUS there’s a bit of cachet to the casting.
Before I dive back into my baseball metaphor, I should say: SHOTGUN WEDDING is pretty good! The core story, one involving pirates taking over the island of a destination wedding with only the bride and groom left to save everyone, is fundamentally solid. It’s certainly more grounded than last year’s extremely similar jungle runaround THE LOST CITY (although even if SHOTGUN WEDDING out-jokes similar premises, the former studio comedy made $105 million while Amazon’s will make a cool $0). The filmmaking itself is kind of oddly sloppy (the framing of this thing in particular is wild, like they just went with the first take they had regardless of where characters were), and the actual romantic stakes within are slapdash at best, forcing will-they-won’t-they drama to characters we couldn’t care less about. But even if you’d just prefer him to be Timothy Olyphant, Duhamel brings a hopelessness to the film that’s ultimately quite fun, and J. Lo, if a bit stiff in delivery, nails plenty of great physical comedy beats. Throw in a fun Lenny Kravitz appearance along with D’Arcy Carden and Cheech Marin, well, you’re cooking with gas.
But Jennifer Coolidge. My god.
Every line delivery, big or small, lands. Coolidge plays Carol, Duhamel’s character Tom’s mother, and don’t worry, the age math there doesn’t really check out at all. Carol is, ironically, not far away from WHITE LOTUS’s Tanya, with both reading as almost uncultured while surrounded by beauty and opulence (“I have never been on a private island before. I’ve never even been on an island before. Actually, you know what? That’s not true. I went to the Heibermans. We went to Mackinac, you know, before they moved to Bloomington. Have you ever been to Mackinac?” she dryly delivers to a 1%er).
But while SHOTGUN WEDDING is filled with quite a few great one liners and great sight gags, every single thing out of Coolidge’s mouth is not just enjoyable, but laugh out loud funny contextually. The idea that her role alone bumps this film up a whole letter grade was a remarkable surprise—she’s always been a reliable laugh dating back to AMERICAN PIE, but when I say that I found myself watching the film like a perfect game, I truly felt like I was on the edge of the seat through the credits waiting to make sure she didn’t have a dud in the mix. I’m happy to say, in the bottom of the ninth with a 3-2 count, Coolidge throws a slider and catches the batter swinging.
“It’s your something borrowed, everyone in our family uses (these cake cutters) on their wedding day. Brings you a lifetime of good luck. Except for Uncle Greg, who ended up getting decapitated on that forklift. But that’s not the knife’s fault.”
“When I’m in formal wear, I like to pee standing up. How about you?”
“I’ve been looking forward to this moment ever since baby Tommy was cut out of my abdomen.”
You can play back these lines in Coolidge’s signature upswinging rasp and laugh in your head. SHOTGUN WEDDING will be forgettable—Amazon predestined that far before it even landed in your app. But it was a reminder, far more than WHITE LOTUS could be, of how great those plainly ditzy, bimbo, MILF’y components to Jennifer Coolidge’s persona and acting style can be. HBO Dramas are great, but for her, a Hulu Comedy might be better.