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The Back-up Plan

Jennifer Lopez is not a leading lady. Sure, she’s been in a couple of good movies, like Out of Sight and The Cell, but they weren’t solid films because of her. Rather she was supported by other factors, a great director and co-star in the former and wonderful art direction and a creepy story in the latter. Her true talent (or lack thereof) stumbles through in films like The Wedding Planner, Gigli and Anaconda. Her new film, The Back-up Plan, follows in their footsteps and is easily classified as one of her worst.

It begins with Zoe, played by Lopez, at a doctor’s office where she has just gotten artificially inseminated. She has gotten old and her biological clock is ticking, so she figures if she ever wants to have a family, this is her only option. On her way out the door, however, she runs into Stan, played by Alex O’Loughlin, a good looking, charming fellow who instantly falls for her. She brushes him off, but he keeps finding her and eventually his persistence pays off. After a few dates Zoe begins to fall in love with him, but with a kid on the way, the relationship starts to take off a little quicker than they both had planned.

Let’s just get this out of the way. The Back-up Plan is excruciating. It’s a tired, formulaic romantic comedy where every laugh is unintentional and the drama unfolds like a collapsing building. Not a single moment of this picture works and by the time the 45 minute mark rolls around, you’ll have already checked your watch the same number of times.

Similar to January's Leap Year, The Back-up Plan caters directly to the women in the audience and shuns the men. Perhaps it’s because of the disparity between the genders that I, as a man, am sitting here perplexed by the amount of laughter that occurred during my screening. You see, the jokes in the film are only something that women can understand or care about. They are the types of jokes that I can only assume the female variety laugh at when out on the town with each other. Of course, I’m referring to “pregnant woman eating” jokes.

What I don’t understand is why this is funny. Pregnant women are eating for two. It’s a natural function of life. These jokes are kind of like the female version of farting. Just as they will never understand why men laugh at such a stupid thing, we will always be confused as to the hilarity of pregnancy.

Maybe it’s because women see pregnancy as a joy and men see it as a forthcoming nightmare. The responsibilities that go into having a child, particularly the financial responsibilities, are scary and having the thought that you may not be able to support it can cause emotional instability. One brief, yet inauthentic, scene just over midway through explores this and is probably the best part of the film.

The rest is as cumbersome and uneven as anything to be released this year. I want to say it’s the critic in me that scoffs at the poor filmmaking and overabundance of clichés who is ultimately dismissing this movie, but I fear it may simply be my lack of understanding as a male. Will women enjoy this? I suppose so and I see no problem with that, but it still doesn’t change the contrived screenplay, lack of chemistry between the leads and the brainless gallivanting suffocating this picture. Being April, it may not be on my final list, but The Back-up Plan is setting out to carve a place as one of the worst movies of the year.

The Back-up Plan receives 0.5/5

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