After less than stellar sales from her latest pop album, Jennifer Lopez returns to the big screen with “The Back-up Plan,” a romantic comedy that is only occasionally amusing or necessarily all that romantic.
With little luck in finding “the one” and the constant ticking of her biological clock, Zoe (Lopez) decides to do what any modern woman would do in pursuit of a family — she gets artificially inseminated.
But no sooner does she get impregnated then she meets a charming, ruggedly handsome Stan (Alex O’Loughlin) who just might be the one after all. But will Zoe’s decision to jumpstart a family ruin her chances with Stan? It’s a romantic comedy, what do you think?
More so than most actresses, it’s pretty hard to picture Lopez playing the quirky, hapless romantic loser that can’t get a guy.
Lopez isn’t that great an actress to make you forget she’s ridiculously gorgeous ad looks like she’s preparing for a magazine photo shoot in every scene — even in bits like using a home pregnancy test — so it’s a big stretch to ask audiences to feel bad that poor J-Lo is having such trouble finding a guy.
Overcoming the problem that is the J-Lo Hotness Factor can be a minor issue provided if she had any good material here. Despite Lopez’ willingness to look silly or find numerous ways to not be the glamorous one, the weak script just makes it all the more obvious this is a Jennifer Lopez vehicle and anything else beyond that is a bonus.
Angelo realized her leads are too normal for a good comedy and tries to pad the film with zany supporting characters. Zoe’s co-workers, the player Clive (Eric Christian Olsen) and the ditzy Daphne (Noureen DeWulf) are too generic, but Michaela Watkins (“Saturday Night Live”) brings some desperately needed fun as Zoe’s sarcastic pal Mona. The same can’t be said for a single mother’s support group Zoe joins as the eccentric collective (led by Melissa McCarthy) are just goofy instead of funny.
The film marked Alan Poul’s only feature film as he’s stuck to TV shows like “The Newsroom.” We’re not exactly missing a lot in terms of an extraordinary filmmaker since Poul mainly stuck to genre clichés that were warmed over a decade ago.
I like O’Loughlin and he plays Stan as the kind of everyman, albeit with perfectly chiseled abs, that plays well in romantic comedies. I wonder if the film would have worked had it been told more from his perspective.
Proving that it doesn’t come natural for all pretty people, Lopez and O’Loughlin don’t have the kind of natural chemistry that will make you buy into their romance. It’s OK, but nothing that would make you want to see them reunite for future efforts like Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.
“The Back-up Plan” has an intriguing concept, but with tired jokes, dumb characters, and uninspired direction, the execution is botched all around making for a perfect example of all that’s bad with the romantic comedy genre.
Rating: 3 out of 10