“After years of dating, Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) has decided waiting for the right one is taking too long. Determined to become a mother, she commits to a plan, makes an appointment and decides to go it alone.That same day, Zoe meets Stan (Alex OLoughlin) a man with real possibilities. Trying to nurture a budding relationship and hide the early signs of pregnancy becomes a comedy of errors for Zoe and creates confusing signals for Stan.”
When the ratio of women to men in a cinema audience is about 40:1, you know that the film is probably not aiming for the male gender. Having said that, I survived and I live to tell the tale of watching “The Back-up Plan” (Rated M) released on May 20th in cinemas everywhere.
I grew up on Kevin Smith’s movies. When I think of romantic comedies, I tend to throw up in my mouth a bit, but I always seem to enjoy them more than I thought I would. There was a time when I 100% identified with Smith’s films. That all stopped with Jersey Girl. I thought (and still think) that it was a great film, but the journey of the main character in that film was totally foreign to me. I wasn’t a father, wasn’t about to be one and didn’t really think I wanted kids at the time. Jersey Girl also featured Jennifer Lopez, playing the dead wife to Ben Affleck’s character. Fast forward six years later and Jennifer Lopez is heading back to the big screen in a new romantic comedy after a four-year absence.
When she first started acting in films like Out of Sight, The Cell and U-Turn, I had a lot of time for Lopez. Her body of work seemed to be building up to a respectable resume. Then the Bennifer and “J Lo” years hit and it looked like all the credibility that she had was swept away with a name change and bad hair extensions.
In her new movie “The Back-up Plan”, Lopez stars as Zoe, a woman who, on the day of being inseminated, meets the man of her dreams and begins a very complicated relationship that could only work in a movie. Don’t get me wrong, this film is cliche ridden but it has a certain charm and that’s down to the lead actress. Just like Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man 2” the movie is only as strong as the lead, and Lopez carries the movie with ease.
One of the reasons that I liked this film was that I could identify with the male lead Stan, played by Aussie Alex O’Loughlin. His trepidation and outright terror of becoming something that he might suck at was a real touchstone for me as a male watching this film and I think that if I wasn’t about to also become a father, I wouldn’t have responded as well as I did to this ‘chick flick’. In most ‘chick flicks’ that I’ve been exposed to it seems like the male lead has been made to look like a buffoon or a cad. I was happy to see that in this film it’s not the case and the person with the most issues was Lopez’ character. It’s a nice change from the cliched norm.
The film also has a great ensemble cast. The very funny Anthony Anderson (Transformers) has what amounts to an extended cameo, but he provides most of the laugh out loud moments and a real sense of reassurance for the males in the audience that it was OK to like the movie. It was also nice to see a few veteran TV actors in it, including Tom Bosley (Happy Days) and Linda Lavin (Alice).
There is a scene early in the third act that made me almost cry with laughter. I can’t spoil it for you, but the scene is so terrifying for this soon to be dad that I had to laugh or I would start crying. I really enjoyed the film despite myself and probably more than I should have. Most of the laughter was pretty much aimed at the lowest common denominator, but it was nice to see a ‘chick flick’ that doesn’t demonize men, has a few belly laughs and has a poop joke thrown in for good measure.
I give it 3.5 out of 5