It's never really a good sign when a studio doles out free drinks before a movie, but that was the case at a recent screening of the latest Jennifer Lopez vehicle, where the booze was, you'll note, flowing. That I personally didn't imbibe had less to do with journalistic ethics and more to do with the length of the line of those waiting. The lucky souls who did gulp cocktails at least had the advantage of liquid courage when facing the dopey spectacle ahead, though I strongly doubt I could've been intoxicated enough to mistake the sorry sight for a film and not some sort of prison experiment.
This is like the fourth or fifth comeback attempt for Lopez, who, despite nailing down tabloid icon status, has a film career under construction as often as I-75.
Having stalled as a weighty dramatic and pop chanteuse, she's trotting down the mediocre rom-com path blazed by Zellweger, Witherspoon et al. Indeed, The Back-Up Plan is so lived-in and familiar that the animated title sequence feels borrowed from a Doris Day movie. Of course Doris Day never began a film with her legs in the air, while being inseminated with designer sperm, but that's the scenario for J-Lo's Zoe, a baby-crazy modern business gal with no time to find the right guy. That right guy (Alex O'Loughlin) tries to steal her cab and, of course, they bicker for a while before falling for each other. He's Stan, an artisan cheese maker, which she first scoffs at, but then declares, "I'm your cheese muse!" before they bone like wild animals on a on a haystack in his upstate barn.
Then there's a series of breakups and make-ups, punctuated with gags about stretch marks, overeating and dog vomit. Just in case we've forgotten that she's a super sexy diva, we are treated to a photo montage of J-Lo's famous caboose in better days, so that poor Stan can see how smoking hot she was before the pregnancy. The flick parades lovable elder sitcom vets Linda Lavin and Tom Bosley out as Zoe's grandparents, if only to remind us how light comedy should be handled, though, with this material, tongs and a hazmat suit might help. A horror show for single women, the script is full of embarrassing pratfalls and, yes, poop jokes, climaxing with a conga line of senior citizens slipping on amniotic fluid.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].