THE BACK-UP PLAN

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 30, 2010

The state of romantic comedies is at a critical low point. Romantic comedies used to mean something. Specifically films like “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days,” “Serendipity,” or “Wicker Park.” All had stunning casts (Cusack/Beckinsale, McConaughey/Hudson, Hartnett/Kruger), state-of-the-art storylines, and moments strategically placed throughout the film to make you feel the full spectrum of emotions meant for a romantic comedy, like joy and disappointment, validation and heartbreak. They are romantic yet comedic. The romantic comedies produced today are at an all-time low. The comedic portion of the film is all reused, recycled garbage, while the romantic element is textbook and comes off staged and uninspiring. The recent romantic comedies are dreadful (“When In Rome,” “Leap Year,” and “The Bounty Hunter”) with no imagination and no reason for the viewer even to care to invest in the characters. “The Back-Up Plan” is the best advocate yet, for this new romantic garbage in Hollywood.

Jennifer Lopez plays Zoe, a needy single woman working at a pet care facility with her wheelchair-ridden dog and a desire for artificial insemination. Following her procedure, she meets Stan (Alex O’Louglin) on the street over a chance encounter with a tails-up penny (real riveting stuff). From there, Stan runs into Zoe at a mutual friend’s party (what are the chances of that?? No, seriously, what are they?), where they go on a date. Yadda yadda yadda, Stan invites Zoe out to his goat cheese farm (where he rides his tractor around shirtless, of course), where he has named a cheese after her, and it is there that Zoe’s raging hormones cause some intercourse (nothing sexier than a barn). Push comes to shove, and Zoe is pregnant with a child. Stan takes the news harshly when he finds out what she did, prolonging the torture in this film.

The plot is ALL over the place. It feels like the writers thought that the original story was too familiar, so they slapped on about forty ideas to mask the first horrible idea. Well, just a heads up, guys, it did not work. “The Back-Up Plan” fails at investing me or being relevant to anyone besides (1) people that will watch any sappy romantic movie shoved in their face or (2) pregnant, emotional wrecks looking for a similar life to their own. The film was not made for me, although plenty of examples of films in the genre have appealed to me, mentally and emotionally. “The Back Up Plan” was not even close to registering.

The scene that kills me (negative connotations) is where Lopez practices how she will tell Stan that she is pregnant in front of the mirror. How often must we, the viewers, be submitted to the SAME repetitive ideas repeatedly? Think up something original! Have Lopez practice her speech with the two-legged dog for all I care. Just quit the lame mirror shtick.

Jennifer Lopez is stunning, do not get me wrong. And I have enjoyed her in romantic comedies like “The Wedding Planner.” But she was caught in a lousy film this time. In most comedies Jennifer stars in, she takes charge of the role, and her character is subject to a normal range of emotions. However, in this film, I found myself physically stating to myself, “who does this?” because of the strange and ludicrous situations.

If you can untangle your way through the mish-mash of plot and meant-with-the-intent-for-laughs storyline, enjoy “The Back-Up Plan” without me. My one-worded review for the film would be “atrocious”—the more extended version: a piece of recycling with a brand new bow tied to it. “The Back-Up Plan,” unfortunately, will never grace my Blu-Ray player again, and I bid Jennifer Lopez ado for that. And whoever Alex O’Loughlin is.

RELEASE DATE
April 23, 2010

DIRECTOR
Alan Poul

WRITTEN BY
Kate Angelo

STUDIO
CBS Films

PG-13
(for some sensuality and violence)

COMEDY
ROMANCE
104 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Xavier Pérez Grobet

COMPOSER
Stephen Trask

EDITOR
Priscilla Nedd-Friendly

CAST
Jennifer Lopez
Alex O’Loughlin
Eric Christian Olsen
Michaela Watkins
Melissa McCarthy
Danneel Harris
Linda Lavin
Rowan Blanchard

PRODUCED BY
Todd Black
Jason Blumenthal
Steve Tisch

BUDGET
$35 million

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