Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 17
 
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME FROM THE BEGINNING?: When Stan, (Alex O’Loughlin, right), realizes that Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) had had herself artificially inseminated in a fertility clinic with sperm from an anonymous donor, he asks Zoe to forgive him for all of his suspicions regarding her promiscuity, and instead asks her to marry him so that they can live happily ever after. To find out her answer to his proposal, see the movie!

The Back-up Plan: J-Lo Too Old to Be an Ingénue in Stock Romantic Comedy

Kam Williams

Before the birth of her child in 2008, Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo) had practically sewed up the role of a damsel-in-distress waiting for a knight in shining armor to rescue her from disaster. When playing the housekeeper in Maid in Manhattan, or the temp worker in Monster-in-Law, or the bridesmaid in The Wedding Planner, J-Lo always generated the right combination of chemistry and vulnerability to be a convincing character.

However, at 40, Lopez frankly has difficulty portraying an innocent coquettish character given the mature lines that are etched in her face. Nonetheless, she throws herself into her role in the The Back-up Plan with gusto.

A worse problem than the casting, however, is the script, which has too many expletives and slapstick stunts — especially bodily function humor — to qualify as a sophisticated adult comedy. Especially annoying is Saturday Night Live alumna Michaela Watkins, who ruins every scene in which she appears.

The story unfolds in New York City on the day that Zoe (Lopez) has given up on ever getting married and starting a family. She’s decided to implement her “back-up plan” of becoming artificially inseminated at a fertility clinic.

On her way home from the clinic, she serendipitously locks eyes with Stan (Alex O’Loughlin), the man of her dreams when they simultaneously hail the same cab. Despite the fact that she calls him “stupid head!” in the ensuing fight over the cab, it is obvious, at least to this viewer, that it’s only a matter of time until they will meet again and fall madly in love.

The film follows the clichéd sitcom “one big secret” formula. The one where the protagonist tries to keep a secret which, if revealed, would instantly clarify matters. But of course, when they start dating, Zoe doesn’t want to reveal that she’s pregnant, although her gradually expanding waistline makes it hard to hide.

Stan, a down-to-earth goat farmer from upstate New York, is a devoted and sensitive guy which makes Zoe’s furtive hijinks seem extremely silly. Consequently, it’s anticlimactic when the moment of truth arrives after the twins are born. Fortunately there was never any doubt that Stan would eventually get down on one knee and propose.

Brace yourself for an ending that fails to generate that warm and fuzzy “happily ever after” feeling.

Fair (1 star). Rated PG-13 for profanity, crude humor, and sexual references. Running time: 106 Minutes. Distributor: CBS Films.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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