Monday, April 26, 2010


I admit it, okay? I loved newly-launched CBS Films' The Back-Up Plan and I'm not apologizing for it. After seeing its trailer surface late 2009, I was not intrigued in the least bit by what seemed like The Formulaic, but then again we all need a bit of sugar in our Lattes now and then. After multiple delays in its release and much negative publicity surrounding Jennifer Lopez's album delays, I began to wonder about her bankability as an actress and singer. This romantic comedy however, has Lopez doing what she does best - being herself. It was North Americans that made her a dual number one success with The Wedding Planner and album J-Lo back in 2001. Surely we haven't forgotten all about her already!

Director Alan Poul (Six Feet Under, Big Love) brings out some very charming performances from Lopez and newcomer Alex O'Loughlin who have a wonderful chemistry together as Zoe and Stan, who meet by chance one rainy day in a New York City cab. Of course there is a bit of tension between them, which ignites things off-the-bat. After browsing through a street market one day with her best friend Mona (Michaela Watkins), Zoe encounters Stan at his Cheese Stand once again and although she is not sold completely on him, the romance ensues quickly after a series of "coincidental" run-ins with one another. One thing though - Zoe neglects to tell Stan that just before she met him she had grown so tired of not being able to find "The One" that she decided to start a family on her own with a Sperm Donor. I don't see the issue here at all! She is happy with everything else in her life, after abandoning a cushy corporate job to open a Pet Store.

The Back-Up Plan is sweet. Yes, it depicts completely unrealistic ideals of how people really fall in love, painting a world where people have no other important priorities like uhh, work for one, instead spending all their time and mental budgets on being engaged helplessly in love.
Zoe and Stan obviously have their work cut out for them. In their relationship, Stan goes back and forth between being certain he is willing to give himself selflessly to Zoe and understandably being hesitant about it all. And Zoe in her increasing pre-natal moodiness, threatens to end it all with Stan at the slightest hint of his hesitation. The bottom line is that Stan is madly in love with her and despite not being sure of what he wants to do with his life other than to sell Cheese including one he named after Zoe, he is certain that he loves her despite the constant confusing of signals a la Bridget Jones. This would be enough to melt the heart of any heterosexual woman on an global scale. These women will eat up O'Loughlin in a role which should propel his career as a Hollywood Heartthrob.

Lopez, after a long absence, undeniably is good here and I almost forgot what a good actress she can be. And despite The Back-Up Plan being predictable despite turning tradition on its head in terms of dating, marriage and then baby, the film is almost all enjoyable and convincing up until late where it insists on force-feeding the notion that marriage is mandatory. This would go against the film's underlying messages of going against the grain known as "traditional love".

Regardless, the laughs are plentiful and some of the film's supporting cast members are responsible for this with their unflattering moments like short-lived Samantha Who's Melissa McCarthy (Carol) and Maribeth Monroe (Lori) who are in Zoe's support group and Stan's confidante, Anthony Anderson as Playground Dad. Great stuff.

The Back-Up Plan is now in wide release and perfect for a girls' night out. Boyfriends and husbands shouldn't mind it too much either. And for some odd reason, you'll crave a Hot Dog after seeing it!  Grade: B

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