Teenagers and adults
April 22, 2010
Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin, Michaela Watkins, and Linda Lavin
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The Back-up Plan
- The Back-up Plan, a romantic comedy for older audiences, introduces viewers to Zoe (played by Jennifer Lopez), a single woman who is worried that her biological clock is ticking down. She wants a baby and decides to be artificially inseminated, but, in an ill-timed moment, she meets Stan (played by Alex O’Loughlin), who happens to be the man of her dreams. The two play cat-and-mouse, circling each other, but eventually they realize that they’re perfect for each other; except, of course, for the fact that she is pregnant from the insemination.
This situation is complicated by Zoe’s annoying neighbor, Mona, who relates both the highs and lows of motherhood and a “Single Mothers and Proud” group that Zoe flows into and out of periodically. As Stan ponders whether or not he really wants to be involved with this pre-packaged mom, he meets a man at the playground who describes the male perspective on child raising – awful, but incredible.
Although Zoe and Stan seem destined to be together, she constantly fights it. For the most part, he carries a flame, realizing she’s the one. The big challenge for this couple is when she goes into labor. At that point, both of them have to decide if they’re willing to fight for their relationship.
As with many or most romantic comedies, performances either make it work or not. The Back-up Plan is no different. Jennifer Lopez carries the lead and shows she can work the comedy effectively. She displays a decent knack for physical comedy, whether she’s discretely stuffing her face with her beau’s stew, or in the midst of a water fight during a date-gone-wrong. Her delivery is good, but her facial reactions are better. However, the audience at the screening seemed mostly charmed by Alex O’Loughlin, who brings out a solid performance that is appealing, funny, and strong.
Capably directed by Alan Poul, the movie moves at a reasonable pace, but never picks up to an engaging tempo. It could have benefited from smoother pacing and a little more time working on the performances within the primary relationship. Written by Kate Angelo, the movie is marked by engaging moments, some great set pieces, and a charm that, although uneven, is evident. The movie has some static moments, however. Nonetheless, the overall story and characters are so appealing that it works despite those moments. Also, it is inspiring that Stan shows a real and abiding love for Zoe.
Once upon a time, people met, fell in love, got married, got pregnant, and had children, but The Back-up Plan mixes that up. It reflects a different way of thinking in today’s “modern” world. Although it shows all these elements in a jumbled order, it is reflective of a postmodern mindset. To its credit, however, it also shows some of the consequential emotional fallout that comes with that.
With as many things working for it as The Back-up Plan has, it’s sad that it’s filled with as much foul language, including one profanity, one “f” word, and several crude references to private parts and functions. There are also some very questionable scenes that, although they’re unusual, are sometimes more uncomfortable or out-of-place than funny. Several of these discomfiting scenes deal with the single mothers’ group, including a three-year-old breastfeeding and an unusually painful natural childbirth scene. Regrettably, the movie’s strong pagan worldview is built on a shaky foundation presuming that sex outside of marriage is acceptable. Thus, all in all, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
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NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine. For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org. Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org. The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.
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