Cinema North Dakota: “Shotgun Wedding” with Minot’s Josh Duhamel (and also Jennifer Lopez) | February 22, 2023

First of all, you should know that Josh Duhamel doesn’t take his shirt off at all in Shotgun Wedding (Prime Video), not once.  Despite being wet for approximately 20% of the movie – it takes place on a Philippine island which he falls off of in the first thirty seconds – Josh Duhamel is clothed 100% of the time.  He removes his jacket at one point and you think, “Whoop, here we go,” and then nothing.  So, if you watch actionantic (that’s action and romantic mixed together, which I came up with myself) comedies, which Shotgun Wedding is, because you want to see Josh Duhamel with his shirt off, be prepared to be disappointed.

On the other hand, if you watch romaction (maybe that’s better) movies because you want to see Jennifer Lopez’s rockin’ body, then you, my friend, ARE IN LUCK.  JLo’s contract for Shotgun Wedding clearly required her to rip off a portion of her clothing every ten minutes, and with a lot of explosions and a robust cast of “Hey, that guy” character actors (Jennifer Coolidge, Lenny Kravitz, D’Arcy Carden, Cheech Marin, Steve Coulter, Sônia Braga, Callie Hernandez), the producers obviously couldn’t afford to have a single scene with her in a sweatshirt.

Here’s my review: Shotgun Wedding is pure entertainment.  I was entertained for the entire one hour and forty minutes.  I laughed out loud a bunch of times, and Kyle even went “Ha” once, which used up his allotted delight for the week because Kyle is not a laugher.  If I was sitting around folding laundry and Shotgun Wedding came on the TV, I would watch it again.  Is it the greatest romaction movie ever made?  No.  Is it the greatest romaction movie made in 2022?  In The Lost City Channing Tatum takes his shirt off so you tell me.  If you decide to peruse Shotgun Wedding because you’re in the mood for la cinema magnifique, well…you need to improve your critical understanding of previews because Shotgun Wedding does not hide its true self.  I mean, the movie poster has JLo with a cake knife in her belt and Josh Duhamel scratching the back of his head looking confused, which basically sums up the entire plot of the movie.

Here’s an extended plot summary: It’s the eve of Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Lopez’s destination wedding.  Josh, a newly-washed-up minor league baseball player (this is repeated throughout the film as a way to “Add depth to the character” and “Give JLo a reason to make silly faces” and “Allow Josh to hit a grenade with a chunk of wood shaped like a baseball bat so as to tie the whole thing back together”) has channeled all of his baseball energy into Pinteresting the crap out of the wedding.  Jennifer, on the other hand, isn’t into it because her dad is rich and could have paid a wedding planner to do all of the Pinteresting, and also because she wanted to elope since her parents are divorced and her mom wears her hair in a bun as proof that she is no longer happy.

Her dad (Cheech Marin) is rich, dating a yoga instructor (D’Arcy Carden) and has invited Jennifer Lopez’s ex (Lenny Kravitz) to the wedding because “He lives in Bali” and destination wedding guests are selected based on proximity. Lenny Kravitz shows up literally on top of the rehearsal dinner in a helicopter, decked out in what looks to be a set of pearls from a child’s dress-up box.  Everyone loves Lenny Kravitz because he is not wearing a shirt.

The wedding day arrives and JLo texts Josh something on the lines of “Something isn’t right, we need to talk.” Josh, as an adult with the ability to comprehend English, presumes she wants to call the whole thing off.  WRONG.  She just wants to apologize for trying to get him to stop glue-gunning fairy lights to pineapples (not a euphemism) so they can have some pre-wedding night hanky-hanky.  While they are arguing about something that could have been a text message, pirates invade the wedding and force all of the guests to stand in the pool until Cheech transfers over $40 million of his $60 million net worth (I guess they don’t teach “liquid assets” in pirate-ing school).  Instead, Jennifer Coolidge, playing Josh’s mom, gives everyone something better than money: comedy.  Also, Cheech says he’s not givin’ nobody nothin’ until they bring him his daughter.  Challenge accepted.

The rest of the movie is JLo and Josh running away from and inadvertently (and sometimes advertently) killing bad guys, and Jennifer Coolidge being Jennifer Coolidge.  There is quite a bit of fire, an inconsistent amount of blood, and a number of very concerning injuries that do not concern people at all.  JLo is the boss and brains behind the operation, having mastered the arts of ziplining, dress ripping, boat driving, and burning up people’s heads (not a euphemism) prior to her trip to the island.  For his own part, North Dakota’s favorite son treats all guns like they are loaded, even though anyone with a weapon likes to pump/rack it over and over and over prior to “firing it” into the crowd (spoiler: Despite a Star Wars-quantity of bullets flying around from what should be empty guns, only two people are minorly injured).  Also, there is a musical number.

Despite the fact that JLo and Josh reiterate the message of the movie every time they tear an item of clothing, I’m not exactly sure what that message is – maybe that not all marriages are perfect?  Or that marriage means you need to be yourself?  Or that grenades don’t fire until you lift the handle and count to five?  One of the most memorable lines to me was the most subtle: after running through the jungle, Jennifer and Josh find themselves in the resort kitchen surrounded by what should have been their wedding dinner.  Jennifer starts shoveling down what I think were chilled scallops (movie food is VERY IMPORTANT to me, I pay VERY CLOSE attention and I NOTICE when the actors just hold the food in their mouths or push it around their plates and don’t eat it) and Josh says something like, “How can you eat at a time like this?”  And she shoves a scallop in his mouth and says, “Here, you’re grumpy.”  Which was a very marriage-y thing to do.

I’m not giving anything away when I say the movie ends happily ever after for everyone (including the pineapples) except for the resort owners, who now have an insurance nightmare on their hands.  The credits has JLo both singing and dancing, which was pretty fun. I don’t have a ratings system, but if I did, I would give Shotgun Wedding 4 out of 5 ranch dressings.

The image above is, clearly, the movie poster for Shotgun Wedding.

This isn’t really news, but it IS a sweet story of paraprofessional Jackie Freitag, who helps her students get excited about music. (KFYR TV)

Fargo’s Tom and Wendy Folkestad are the FIRST North Dakotans to ever win the Publisher’s Clearing House grand weekly $10,000 prize. (Fargo Forum)

The line-up is set for the North Dakota State Fair, including Ludacris, T-Pain, Eric Church, Five Finger Death Punch, and Brad Paisley. (Minot Daily News)

If you’ve ever though, “Boy, I wish I could gain weight like a walk-on football player” well then here’s a recipe for you. (Fargo Forum)

West Fargo’s Johanna Loiseau was one of Rihanna’s backup dancers for the Super LVII Half-Time Show. (Fargo Forum)

Coming soon to Cinema North Dakota: End of the Rope, which was filmed in North Dakota and is the story of the Charles Bannon case. (US 103.3)

Watford City’s Mitch Haugeberg has been able to fund his family board game thanks to a very successful Kickstarter. (KFYR TV)

Students at Bismarck’s Wachter Middle School spent the day outside trying out kick sleds and snowshoes. (KFYR TV)

The Fargo-Moorhead Opera’s Young Artist Program recently put on three mini operas, entitled, “Love Bites.” (Fargo Forum)

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Eight Short Stories | December 14, 2022

My sister and I recently surprised our dad with “the gift of our presence” by crashing our family chaos into his Austin birthday weekend getaway with my mom.  I love me a good Hallmark/-adjacent movie for the same reasons as everyone else – the snark, and the final kissing scene – and so I watched Apple TV’s The Eight Gifts of Hanukkah on the way to Texas.  As expected, it was a magnificent dumpster fire (at one point I laughed so loudly that my son, sitting three seats away across the aisle, shushed me); in part because the overall premise is that the main character falls passionately in love with a mystery man who sends her eight INCREDIBLY PERSONAL gifts, including “chocolate” and “a non-descript watch.”  In honor of Jewish girls everywhere aggressively vision boarding a scenario where a rich Jewish contractor (oh fer sure), a rich Jewish tech genius (more likely), a rich not-Jewish-but-supportive celebrity chef found on Tinder (a statistically improbable meeting but fine), and a rich Jewish partner in a law firm (I’m offended by this accurate stereotype) are vying for her affection, and in celebration of Hanukkah starting on Sunday, I would like to offer you eight of my own INCREDIBLY PERSONAL stories from the past few weeks.


To keep ten people – including four boys ages 11, 7, 5, and 1 – occupied between meals, we sought the services of Pioneer Farms, a multi-acred living history museum in Austin.  At one point, I found myself at the 1886 Bell House with my own seven-year-old and my five-year-old nephew.  The Bell House was filled with volunteers in traditional Victorian garb, and one of said volunteers called the boys into the parlor.

“Hello, sirs,” she drawled.  “Would you like to hear a short story?”

“Sure,” Seven said, never one to turn down a good plop onto a vintage couch.  His cousin obediently joined him.

Once she was sure they were settled, the volunteer spread out her hoop skirt, positioned herself onto a wicker rocker, opened a time-worn version of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” – and began to read the slowest version of that story ever told.  The boys sat there patiently and silently for approximately 186 years, after which the volunteer gently closed the book and asked the boys if they had any questions.  Five raised his hand.

“Yes?”  She said, patting the book.

“Do you have any graham crackers?”  He asked.


My eleven-year-old was recently given the chance to write his holiday wish on a paper ornament and place it on a Christmas tree. Nestled amongst the “A puppy” and “An Oculus” wishes was Seven’s request: “World Peace, Hockey, and Deez Nutz.”


We took my dad to the Austin Museum of Ice Cream on his birthday, which was appropriate since I’m still not totally sure my dad likes ice cream.  The Museum of Ice Cream plays fast and loose with the term “Museum,” as it’s really just a giant pink+pink box (Blush and Bashful, for Steel Magnolia fans) of rooms for eating ice cream and taking pictures for Instagram.  The ice cream is, obviously, the centerpiece, and when we walked into the second room (the first room was where we got to name ourselves something related to ice cream and so Kyle picked Vanilla and we almost got divorced right then and there because the #1 thing Kyle and I argue about is whether Vanilla is a flavor – his contention – or an ingredient – mine) the hostess (whose real or ice cream name was Sweetie) said while pointing to an ice cream counter,

“There are four ice cream stations throughout the Museum, and you can eat as much as you want!”

Seven, the foremost expert in the Titanic and ice cream (unrelated), was first in line to get his ice cream.  As noted, we were there with several children and adults, and so by the time everyone got settled with their own scoops (minus my dad, because I really don’t think he likes ice cream), I looked around and realized Seven was missing.  We found him back at the counter, tucked into his second dish.

“What are the chances he pukes before he gets out of here?”  I asked my sister.

Well, he didn’t puke IN the Museum, but my dad – who, as noted, may or may not like ice cream – got to spend twenty minutes of his birthday in the bathroom outside the Museum with a grandson who had filled himself up with too much happiness.


Seven has recently started playing goalie.  At one of his most recent games, he took a puck to the face mask that came in so hard that it took off some paint.  Seven was obviously upset; and so, after he calmed down, Kyle told Seven that if he needed him for any post-injury reason, to call him over.  About a minute later, Seven beckoned to Kyle, who rushed across the ice to see what was the matter.

“Um,” Seven said.  “I think there is more land on Earth than water, since there is land UNDER the water.”

“Sounds right,” Kyle said, as Seven got himself back into position.


We flew home from Texas on the same plane as my parents.  My parents sat up in First Class – deemed a gift for the birthday boy by his adoring wife, who coincidentally loves so much to board and depart a plane as early as possible that we’re thinking she will become a jet bridge agent in her retirement.  Eleven was fascinated by the fact they were in First, and so my mother announced to him that she would let him sit in her seat for part of the trip so he could check it out.

With forty minutes left to go in the flight, the attendant came back and communicated that my mom was ready for the switch.  We had just gotten our snacks (we were basically sitting in the bathroom), and so Eleven felt the need to completely consume every last bite of cookies and every last drop of ginger ale before heading up to the front.  My mom came back with twenty-two minutes remaining.

“I’ll give him a bit to take in the whole experience, and then I’ll switch back because…” she searched for a reason that wasn’t ‘Because I want to get off first,’ “My suitcase is up there.”

“We’re going to be descending in thirty seconds,” I said.

“No,” she said, as the captain came over the speaker to announce our descent.

The seatbelt light came on.

“I’ll be right back,” she said, pushing past me.

She hustled up to the front of the plane.  Five minutes later, she was back.

“Dad’s going to bring my suitcase,” she said, and then, “He was having too good of a time.” 

“That’s nice,” I said.


Last month, as we were flying back from my grandpa’s funeral, I noticed Kyle was staring off into the distance, deep in thought.  I reached out and held his hand.

“You okay?”  I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“What are you thinking about?”

Kyle sighed.  “My rink,” he said, in reference to our backyard hockey rink, which was, at the time, a few ice pours away from being skate-ready.


Every year, Kyle and I sponsor gifts for a family with the local domestic violence shelter.  I took Eleven with me to the Dollar Store to get a gift bag and some toiletries.  I told Eleven what we were doing there as we were walking in, and he was quiet as I loaded items up into the basket.  As I walked up to the checkout counter, he went sprinting off to one of the aisles – returning with two tiny packages of cocktail forks (like the kind you’d put into a tray of cocktail meatballs) and miniature dessert spoons.

“This family probably doesn’t have much,” he said to me.

“Probably,” I said.

“Well, they are going to need silverware,” he said, putting the forks and spoons in the basket.

“Yes, good point,” I said.  “Maybe we should get them regular-sized silverware, then?”

“But I thought you said they were kids?”  He said, deeply earnest.  “So they need little stuff.”

“Oh,” I said, putting the basket on the belt, imagining the next day when I’d deliver a bag of gift cards, shampoo, and cocktail forks to the center.  “Okay, sure.”


In addition to historic structures, Austin’s Pioneer Farms was home to a number of barnyard animals, including several donkeys.  The boys were FASCINATED by the donkeys, and spent ten-plus minutes feeding grass to the donkeys (who were standing in six-inch grass in their pens).  As we were putting the boys to bed after returning to Grand Forks, Seven began to wimper.

“What’s the matter, buddy?”  I asked.

“I’m worried about Austin,” he said.

“Austin, Texas?”  I asked.  “What are you worried about?”

“Who is going to feed the donkeys?”  He cried.

The photo above is of my sister and me at the Museum of Ice Cream.  We are sitting in a pool of plastic sprinkles, naturally.

In Minot, members of 17 law enforcement agencies took 128 “awesome” (quotation marks not needed) kids shopping for Christmas. (Minot Daily News)

And in Dickinson, 17 law enforcement agencies shopped with 51 more cool kids. (Dickinson Press)

Bismarck’s Emersyn Decker is now the proud owner of a camper (plus s’mores supplies, pillows, and sheets), thanks to Make-A-Wish. (KFYR TV)

The University of Jamestown Jimmies are the 2022 NAIA Women’s Volleyball National Champions! (Facebook)

There’s one day left to “Stuff the Bus” in Bismarck in support of Aid Inc. (KFYR TV)

Sydney Menne, a student at the University of North Dakota, is one of only 40 students to receive the prestigious Marshall Scholarship for study at the university of her choice in the United Kingdom. (Grand Forks Herald)

Watford City’s Saiorse the dog is being celebrated for saving her family from a house fire. (McKenzie Counter Farmer)

Hot diggity dog – the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile is coming to Minot! (KX Net)

An anonymous donor in Stanley paid all of the student lunch debt right before Thanksgiving – and, as you can see from this article, there is still time to help in other districts. (Williston Herald)

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Goalie Mom, or a brief lesson in unclenching | December 7, 2022

When my eleven-year-old was around seven, he came home from hockey practice and announced he wanted to be a goalie.

“Great!”  My husband said.

“Erm,” I said.

Here was my concern: hockey is a team sport, but the goalie’s mistakes stand alone.  In fact, sometimes, the goalie shoulders the burden of the entire team’s mistakes; for example, we were recently at a University of North Dakota hockey game and UND scored on the opposing team’s net. 

“Sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve!” the crowd shouted at the goalie while the goal replayed on the screen.

“See that,” Kyle (as a reminder, a hockey agent) said, pointing at one of the opposing defensemen.  “He lost his man.”

“Oh, yes,” I said, even though I didn’t see because my knowledge of the intricacies of hockey stops at whether they serve hot dogs or brats at the concession stand, and also because it’s hard to keep your eye on everyone when there are ten people quickly chasing a small black disk on a big sheet of ice (and you’re busy eating a brat).

Anyways, I didn’t want my sweet, doe-eyed seven-year-old to face that negative attention, warranted or unwarranted.

“How about this,” I said.  “You can play goalie for your Tuesday practices, and play out for your Thursday practices.”

“I want to play goalie all the time,” he said.

“Let’s start with Tuesdays,” I said.

That plan lasted exactly one week.  On the second Thursday, I popped by the rink after work to pick up our toddler from Kyle and wave to the big boy.  Shore ‘nough, I found him out on the ice in his borrowed goalie equipment.

“I thought we agreed on Tuesdays,” I said to Kyle.

“He wouldn’t get dressed otherwise,” Kyle said.

That first year, he let in approximately nine billion goals.  I sat in the stands scrunched like an old dried-up sponge, searching his face behind his mask for an anticipated torrent of tears.  They never came; instead, he’d dance along to the music that would play during the whistle.

He was still wearing borrowed equipment by his second season – “I don’t want to spend the money if he’s not going to stick with it,” The Killer of Joy told Kyle – although I had willingly agreed to pay for goalie lessons because I needed another thing to obsess over.  Before every practice, lesson, or game I’d say to our son, “Have fun and do your best,” and then spend the next hours and days fretting over why he wasn’t paying enough attention, or getting his stick down fast enough, or saving every shot, or whether the other goalies were better and if they were and he was cut from the team would he have any friends anymore and should we just pack up and move right this second to a town in the middle of the desert that had never seen ice?  WELL SHOULD WE?

Of course, I didn’t want to share these neuroses with an eight-year-old, so instead I’d tamp down every emotion into a tight ball and ask with the eyes of a psychopath, “Do you still like being a goalie, buddy?”  And our son would always answer, “Yes!”

Once, I decided to mention a few of these anxieties to my best friend, who has neither children nor any interest in youth sports.  After a loooooooong pause, she said, “I don’t think he needs goalie camp, I think you need Valium.”

Fast-forward another year, to when my parents met us for one of the final games of the season.  I was sitting in the stands next to my mother, who was talking away about something when she stopped and asked, “Are you holding your breath?”

“Yes, I guess I am,” I said, exhaling quickly.


“I’m nervous,” I said.

“About this game?” 

“About everything,” I said.

“Well, what is the point of THAT?”  She asked, as if I had told her I owned more than one can opener.  “It’s a game, Amanda.  Games are meant to be fun.  Is he having fun?”

She pointed to my son, who was zipping around in his net.

“Yes,” I said.

“If he doesn’t do well, are you going to go out there and play for him?”  She asked.

“No,” I said.

“Then you can either have fun or not have fun, or be nervous or not be nervous, but none of those things are going to change the outcome of this game.”  Then she went back to whatever she was talking about before, probably can openers.

I thought about what she said all summer, through baseball and road trips and goalie equipment shopping trips (because I’m not a total monster).  I thought about it while we were packing up for his first fall hockey tournament, and while we were walking into the rink for the first game.

“Have fun, buddy,” I said, with a depth of emotion that can only come with total enlightenment – because that was what I was going to do: enjoy myself, and my son’s time in the sport.

“Okay,” my son said, not giving a crap about my spiritual growth at all.

Today, fifteen zillion games later, my younger son has also decided to become a goalie.  At one of his first games, he got tired of playing, leaned his arm up on the back of his net, and just…let in goals for a while.  Kyle and I were standing together and we burst out laughing (and then knocked on the glass to get him to pay attention).  I may not have yet achieved total Zen, but at least I was having a good time.

“Man, I don’t know how you can stand to be a goalie parent,” one of the moms said to me after the game.  “It would be too stressful for me.”

“I’ve had a lot of practice,” I told her.

The photo above was taken by photographer Jeff Wegge.  My older son (then eight years old) got to play with the Little Chippers during the first intermission of the UND game.  As you can see by his face, he had a REALLY good time.

Caitlynn Towe, Myah Johnson, and MacKenzie Olson of Rugby, Hazen, and Watford City, respectively, are on their way to New York to sing at Carnegie Hall. (KFYR TV)

A Bismarck non-profit called Badlands Search and Rescue now has a pup named Copper. (KFYR TV)

In North Dakota-adjacent news, Breckenridge’s Jared Hoechst was recently honored for saving an elderly couple from a burning vehicle. (KFYR TV)

In celebration of her birthday, West Fargo’s Gowri Pillai has donated 5,000 pounds of food – her 10th year of gathering food donations. (KVRR)

This is a sweet little read about memories. (Minot Daily News)

Bismarck’s Christian and Wilfried Tanefeu had Thanksgiving dinner with their new friend, Kelly Ripa. (KFYR TV)

Minot’s Josh Duhamel – you may have heard of him – is the voice of the main character of a new video game. (Fargo Forum)

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