Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel fight criminals in “Armed Wedding”

Actor Josh Duhamel was filming a scene in the new action romance “Armed Wedding” (available on Prime Video) in which his bride, played by Jennifer Lopez, throws a grenade in the air. He hits like a baseball on a thug who explodes and sets off a rainbow-colored fireworks display.

“I was thinking, damn (expletive), this movie is crazy,” Duhamel said.

The film, directed by Jason Moore, starts off as a normal romantic comedy. Darcy played by Jennifer and Tom de Duhamel get married in high style on an island. There are funny and awkward family dynamics and a charismatic ex-boyfriend also makes an appearance. And Darcy and Tom find themselves fighting and on the verge of calling off the wedding moments before walking down the aisle. Then a band of armed pirates arrive and take the wedding party hostage.

Jennifer Lopez, who produced and starred, came to Mark Hammer’s screenplay through his producing partner, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas – they’ve been making movies together since The Date.

“She’s kind of a career architect,” said the actress. “We really think about not just what we want to do but what the public would like or what the world needs at different times. I even do that as an artist with my albums and the things I want to put out to the world as a message.”

“Armed Wedding” wasn’t just a fun mix of genres in a stylish package – Lopez liked the idea that her character was getting married for the first time at an “older age” and that Tom was the “goomzilla”, obsessed with the details and logistics of planning the party.

It took, she said, adding “different things that people don’t consider conventional and normal and making it regular and acceptable.”

Casting wasn’t difficult – from Cheech Marin, who plays Darcy’s billionaire father, to Jennifer Coolidge, who plays Tom’s mother, basically every actor said “yes” to phrases like “Jennifer Lopez” and “filming in Republic Dominican”.

“It was a funny script,” said Coolidge. “We had a table reading early on, and I remember it going really well. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is going to be so much fun.'”

There was a problem before they reached the island. Armie Hammer was originally cast to play Tom, but he pulled out of the project after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced, which he denied. Pre-production was already into its second week and a key role needed to be recast. Director Moore, a Broadway veteran, didn’t panic.

“There’s always that moment when the replacement has to take over,” Moore said. “And it always works out. Of course, there were some more difficult days, but everything worked out wonderfully.”

Duhamel was on Moore’s replacement list and has been friends with Lopez for years. “He’s an incredibly handsome movie star with a 1940s good looks, which is to say, he’s not afraid to look vulnerable and silly,” Moore said. Duhamel and Lopez spoke via Zoom and reached an agreement.

“It takes a certain kind of chemistry on stage,” Lopez said. “This wasn’t just romantic comedy chemistry. It’s something, you know, like trusting each other and doing actions and stunts to get to a broader comedy.”

Much of the cast even lived together in a giant house and hung out together most nights, which translated into a family atmosphere on set.

“It was like a weird kind of cinematic dorm,” Duhamel said. “But with a spa, a hot tub, a pool, and a beach.”

“It was so much better than I imagined,” Lopez added. “We were on exactly the same wavelength.” Coolidge also approved. “They’re so fun to watch,” she said. “You know, you want to see them together, because you’re attracted to the two actors and when you see them on stage, you realize that there are two lovers.”

But of course the pirates get in the way and even force the wedding guests to stay inside a pool as hostages while they try to find the fighting bride and groom. The funny thing is that everyone was underwater for quite a while. “Perhaps I shouldn’t say, but they didn’t change the water the entire time we were shooting,” Coolidge said.

D’Arcy Carden, who plays Marin’s new age and much younger girlfriend, said those 20 days were a bit humbling. Marin and Steve Coulter, who played Coolidge’s husband, sometimes even napped in their sodden bathing suits next to each other, of which Carden says he has photographic evidence.

But other than the two-week soggy shoes, Carden said it was “about as dreamy a situation as you could be in.”

Lenny Kravitz, playing Darcy’s ex-boyfriend, even arrives (in a helicopter) to mess things up. “He’s kind of a ridiculous, blown-up version of, you know, a small part of who people think I am,” said Kravitz, a longtime friend of Lopez.

Moore wanted to make sure the film looked “big and luxurious, like a James Bond”, he said.

And everyone was impressed with Lopez, who didn’t play the “movie star” role on set. During a day shooting scenes on a small boat in open water, Lopez went into producer mode and decided she didn’t need an extra boat so her makeup artist would be there with them. She could do her makeup herself. And she nailed it, Moore said.

“She is a mogul, producer, storyteller, actress, singer and a brilliant comedian,” said Moore. “She has discipline and artistic elegance, which is a wonderful combination. She really can do it all.”

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