Directed by: Alan Poul
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin, Eric Christian Olsen, Noureen DeWulf, Donal Logue
Running time: 98 mins
Certificate: 12

Released: May 7, 2010 (UK)

Last week, I had the opportunity to go and see the latest Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy The Back-Up Plan at Sony’s fantastic facilities deep in the heart of London’s Soho. The film marks J-Lo’s first film for nearly four years – the actress/ singer has not graced our screens since El Cantante in 2006.

In The Back-Up Plan, a return to the familiar climbs of the rom-com, Lopez plays Zoe, a hugely successful single woman and former internet executive who quit it all to run her own pet shop in the middle of Manhattan, New York. She has it all. Money, greats friends and a great job, but one thing is missing from her life — children, and more importantly, the right man to give her them…

With her biological clock ticking, Zoe attends her doctor to look at getting artificially inseminated, which in the opening scenes of the film she does and successfully falls pregnant, but little does she know, a surprise is around the corner — the man of her dreams — Stan, played by Alex O’Loughlin

I went into the pristine screening room at Sony with a very open mind. Despite it all, I am indeed a lover of the chick flick, and will have no qualms with rolling up to the latest release, lady present or not (no sexism intended). Not in this case. I saw the film alone, with a bunch of other film critics (mostly male)  on a very warm Monday evening in April. Now, I have read a few other reviews by critics who have absolutely SLATED this movie.

“The worst film I have ever seen.”

“Totally unfunny.”

Two quotes regarding the film that I have read in the past few minutes. I will disagree to both of the quotes from two other websites that will remain nameless, but I will not go as far to saying that this is the best film of its type that I have ever seen.

The main premise to the film is that everything Zoe does, is done in reverse. Get pregnant, find the right man, fall in love and then get married. The problem with this movie is that it’s all so damn predictible, and some of the gags you can see coming from a mile off. J-Lo is funny, but the chemistry between her Zoe and the character Stan (played by O’Loughlin) is just not that beliveable. They are not given the screen time and story development for their characters to be seen to fall madly in love, and I didn’t buy it. It all happens too quickly. As I said, there are a few laugh out loud moments, and I for one could not control my giggling during a few scenes in the movie. I loved Zoe’s disable dog and the bits of the film in which he features, he absolutely steals, and I dug the O’Louglin’s interaction with Anthony Anderson’s unnamed playground father during the scenes in the park — but then there’s the very corny, cliched women-giving-birth scene, which we are still expected to find funny, the crashing-of-car-scene-when-girl-is-checking-out-hot-guy-on-tractor and other such stuff, where I just turned off.

Lopez and O’Louglin do have a chemistry, and granted they are very easy on the eye, but their characters are, as I previously mentioned, not given that screen time to develop and form a bond. The film tries to pack too much into its 98 minutes and each scene looks like its just setting itself up for the next gag, which when it finally comes along, is rather unfulfilling.

Jennifer Lopez makes the best of the material, and newcoming Alex O’Loughlin deserves more (I truly think that he is on to watch in the future and I loved him in The Shield) and Anthony Anderson is a great watch once again.

It just seemed that something was missing. Seeing the film was like going out for dinner and enjoying it, but leaving the restaurant and feeling immediately hungry afterwards. I have no doubts that it will find its audience, and thousands of couples will go out and see it and probably enjoy it on its opening weekend, but it really is just a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy and in the days where we have such gems as Knocked Up, a film with a similar theme, it just doesn’t measure up or even begin to compete. — Paul Heath, May 2010

Grade: C-