Thursday 24 July 2014

Movie Review: The Back-Up Plan (2010)

An average romantic comedy, The Back-Up Plan is lifted by an interesting enough premise and a committed Jennifer Lopez performance.

Zoe (Lopez) is a former corporate ladder climber who now owns a pet store in New York City. Single and giving up hope that she will ever find the perfect Mr. Right, Zoe decides to try and have a baby through artificial insemination. On her way out of the clinic she bumps into the dreamy Stan (Alex O'Loughlin), when they both try to hail the same cab. Stan is a goat farmer who sells cheese at a farmer's market, and is attending night school to try and secure an economics degree.

They start a relationship, only for Zoe to find out soon afterwards that the insemination worked: she is pregnant. Zoe joins a support group for single mothers, headed by Carol (Melissa McCarthy), but with the romance growing serious and Stan proving to be very much the man of her dreams, Zoe has to decide if and how to break the pregnancy news to him. Stan is still getting used to the idea of having a serious girlfriend, and the possibility of immediately becoming a father could understandably compromise his commitment.

The Back-Up Plan adheres to the standard rules of the rom-com genre, but finds a new twist in the form of a successful and unrelated pregnancy arriving ahead of the romance. It’s an intriguing complication to throw into a new relationship, and Zoe, who finds the man she’s looking for as soon as she stops looking, has the challenge of too many things going right at the same time. The second half of the film thrusts the fledgling couple into pregnancy mode, in a significant test of responsibility for both.

Directed by Alan Poul, The Back-Up Plan finds the right mix of love, humour, some drama and attractive New York locations. The film invests in Zoe’s character, creating a well-rounded and self-confident woman who is nevertheless struggling against trust issues. Zoe also has a circle of friends, a pregnancy support group, co-workers, and family to provide the requisite barbs and support. She also enjoys the company of a cute dog with mobility challenges. Lopez delivers a bright and cheerful performance, never threatening to surpass the material but certainly adequate enough for the purpose.

The character of Stan does unintentionally dull the film’s edge, in that he is almost too perfect. Sensitive, funny, caring, operating an eco-friendly business and striving for self-improvement, it’s a small miracle that he is single and available to fall into Zoe’s cab.

Entertaining and innocuous, The Back-Up Plan carries modest aspirations and delivers accordingly.

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