Jennifer Lopez's latest movie The Back-Up Plan ($41M worldwide box office gross to date since its April 23 release) is no cinematic masterpiece, but it certainly exceeded my expectations. In fact, if not for a free movie screening and the opportunity to spend time with a good friend, I may very well have never seen this 98-minute long, PG-13 film.
The story is about a woman, Zoe (Lopez), who fears that her clock is ticking, but instead of looking for Mr. Right, pays for a vial of sperm and decides to take matters into her own hands... or, erm, belly. You know the old saying—love comes when you least expect it. Literally the moment she steps out of the doctor's office on insemination day, Zoe meets the man of her dreams, Stan (Alex O'Loughlin). Of course, it's a subjective call when it comes to determining whether art mimics life or life mimics art in this case. The pair's fabulous first date and weekend away (on the second date) can either be read as a condensed representation of a perfect courtship or as a reflection of modern women taking dating advice from sappy rom-coms as unrealistic as this one.
Despite the predictability of this film (including the water-birthing scene that makes most of us squeamish, and the steamy makeout scenes so obviously designed for a largely Lifetime-watching female audience) there are some redeeming qualities that save it from being a complete flop. Even if the spark isn't completely there, O'Loughlin and Lopez sure do look like a stunning pair. This movie does make you laugh in the moment, however fleeting and unmemorable the jokes may be. Best of all, listening to the peppy, feel-good scoring is like taking a hot shower at the end of a long day. No matter what else has failed you previously, you walk out of the experience feeling a little warmer inside. Somehow, you're comforted by the fact that you're not the only one who hasn't found your Prince Charming yet, and that hope is just around the corner, all to the upbeat, motivational derivations of tunes from The Princess Diaries and Legally Blonde. (Don't judge my musical taste. Sometimes, a girl's got to listen to a girly song.)
If there is a lesson to be learned from (or reinforced after) watching this film, it's that you must find yourself before you find someone else. You must know how to make yourself happy, because you're the only person who you'll live with every day for the rest of your life. But you knew all of that already, didn't you?
Movies like these are like chicken soup for the female soul. Even though it's the same flavor stewed in the same way with the same ingredients, it's an affirmation that we're all worthy of love. And that's an idea that never gets old.
Article first published as Movie Review: The Back-Up Plan on Blogcritics.