No Redeeming Quality to Jennifer Lopez’s ‘The Back-up Plan’

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CHICAGO – “The Back-up Plan,” starring Jennifer Lopez, is spectacularly bad. Filled with leaden, supposedly comedic lines, stupid generalities and no basis in reality, this film ranks first in class for worst of 2010 so far.

J-Lo portrays J-Zoe, a successful pet store owner in Manhattan who never seems to have to work. She has made a big decision – her “back-up plan” – to have a baby through artificial insemination due to a ticking biological clock and no relationship. Her wacky doctor (Robert Klein) gets her through the procedure, but the intrepid small business owner is convinced it hasn’t worked.

Enter the hunky cheese maker named Stan (Alex O’Loughlin, and yes, he is a cheese maker), who meets J-Zoe when they both hail the same cab. Faster than you can say crazy first date, the couple becomes a coosome twosome, right about at the same time that J-Zoe finds out she’s pregnant with twins.

It is up to J-Zoe to tell her newly minted boyfriend her situation, much to the chagrin of her loyal Nana (Linda Lavin from TV’s “Alice”) and Nana’s boyfriend of 22 years (Tom Bosley of TV’s “Happy Days”). When those 1970s sitcom stars can’t help you, how about Mona (Michaela Watkins), who has all the time in the world to be with J-Zoe while raising four kids of her own.

Going McConaughey: Jennifer Lopez as Zoe and Alex O’Loughlin as Stan in ‘The Back-up Plan’
Going McConaughey: Jennifer Lopez as Zoe and Alex O’Loughlin as Stan in ‘The Back-up Plan’
Photo Credit: © 2010 CBS Films, Inc.

When Stan finally does find out, instead of running for the hills he actually accepts and embraces the notion of impending fatherhood (after knowing J-Zoe for approximately two weeks, whatta guy). He even finds his own advice mate, the aptly credited Playground Dad (Anthony Anderson) who provides the comic relief with poop jokes. Can these wild middle age kids embrace parenthood and each other at the same time?

This is a woman’s flick fairy tale that pretty much insults anyone’s intelligence. The characters are all from the Land of Cluelessness, where the unlikely scenarios are designed to fit within a very narrow concept that could never happen in million years. It is the kind of “comedy” that offers the recitation of woman’s private parts as funny – truly Robert Klein’s worst screen moment. Also dogs with carts instead of legs provide unending mirth and lesbians with birthing rituals are comic props for middle America to roll in the aisles. Yes, he’s a cheese maker and yes, there is a lesbian birthing ritual. Hoo-ha.

Lopez, who is getting a bit too old to be playing the ingenue with the tight designer clothes, is going through the transition from wedding planner girlfriend to pet store hot momma. It’s domestic goddess time for Jenny from the Block, and her attempt to do it in a pseudo-Lucille-Ball style is slightly insulting for this kind of subject. Must we see her squeeze her legs as she walks after insemination?

The supporting characters lend no support. J-Zoe’s boy toy Stan, Alex O’Loughlin, is a shirtless cheese maker, finding time between milking goats to get some serious personal training, waxing and body hair manscaping. Why is he embarrassed in the story, despite an empire of cheese and hunky manliness? As he asserts, his life is pretty good, but without an education he is nothing. The lesson here kids is stay in school, unless you want to date J-Zoe and become a shirtless milker of goats.

Linda Lavin and Tom Bosley perform as if they were kidnapped (oldnapped?) from the retired actors home, Bosley looking particularly on the brink. Noureen DeWulf, as Daphne the pet shop employee, looks to be the only store clerk outside of Victoria’s Secret with breast augmentation and a refugee from the Jersey Shore. Finally, ex-Saturday Night Live cast member Michaela Watkins gets to stand-in for J-Zoe’s pregnancy pillow, after a “comic” dumpster dive looking for the prop fails.

Go Ask Alice: Linda Lavin as Nana in ‘The Back-up Plan’
Go Ask Alice: Linda Lavin as Nana in ‘The Back-up Plan’
Photo Credit: © 2010 CBS Films, Inc.

Normal human interaction gets short shrift in this story. Kate Angelo’s script manages to trivialize both first dating and pregnancy by hammering them awkwardly together. There is no chemistry between J-Zoe and Stan, and their break-up/come together inevitability makes no sense, much like their entire gooey collaboration. And it ends up being seriously boring, even at a scant 98 minutes (time that will never come back).

Jennifer Lopez is a movie star of the old fashioned variety, selling her stylish image over any substance in the acting or story realm. With cherry bombs like this film, she better start thinking about her own back-up plan, that of career salvaging.

”The Back-up Plan” opens everywhere April 23th. Featuring Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin, Michaela Watkins, Robert Klein, Linda Lavin and Tom Bosley, directed by Alan Poul. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2010 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

Shala.'s picture

Horribley boring,

Horribley boring, undermining audience’s intelligence. not funny, not romantic, and a complete waste of time - crap like this should not be allowed to be screened.

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