The Back-up Plan

Courtesy: AllMoviePhoto.com

Starring Jennifer Lopez, Alex O'Loughlin and Michaela Watkins. Directed by Alan Poul. 99 Minutes. PG-13

Once upon a time there were two beautiful people who met, fell in love, broke up, then got back together and got married. That's what we expect from stereotypical romantic comedies and that, plus artificial insemination, is what we get with The Back-Up Plan.

The film begins with Zoe's (Jennifer Lopez) inner monologue about how she's tired of waiting for "Mr. Right" to start a family and is ready to have a baby on her own, all the while she's tilted back and propped open for artificial insemination. Waddling out of the clinic, she steps into the pounding rain, hails a cab and jumps in. Then Stan (Alex O'Loughlin) hops in too. And then they fall in love, thus making this scene their oh-so-cute first memory together, minus the cute.

Then come the two essential components to this film: Stan is Mr. Right and Zoe is pregnant with an unknown red-haired, freckled man's children. Yes, children; she's having twins, of course. As if asking your new boyfriend to father one of your unborn children weren’t enough to scare him far, far away.

Throughout the film, Lopez does what's expected of her, which is the reason many of us watch her rom-coms. She plays the ordinary woman who falls in love, making her life extraordinary and complicated but ultimately, a dazzling fairy tale. She’s kind-hearted, innocent and determined. All the while, it's all too obvious that this is "Jennifer Lopez acting" not an ambitious, working woman named Zoe.

O'Loughlin also fits his criteria: a full set of glistening, white teeth, smooth one-liners and almost as buff as Fabio. He's just "the guy.” It could have been Matthew McConaughey, it could have been Ralph Fiennes; the film just needed someone to wear the shoes of “the guy.” Ok, it should have never been Ralph Fiennes.

However, what can take a film like this, beyond another frolic in the park, is on-screen chemistry, which in the case of this film was not believable. But then again, nothing about this film was really believable. Not the fact that Stan made cheese for a living, that Zoe owned a pet store or that her nana was actually her nana.

The best (and most convincing) aspect of the film was Anthony Anderson’s handful of scenes with Stan at the park, cracking jokes at the woes of parenthood. Casting him as Stan’s best friend, rather than a random playground dad, would have definitely given the film a boost.

Acting, chemistry and plot aside, The Back-Up Plan works as expected. It’s a mindless escape. It serves the purpose that 1960s television did. It's unrealistic, improbable and highly predictable, but for an hour and forty-five minutes, you become absorbed by the clich├ęs and tag along for the lovey-dovey ride. C

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