The Back-Up Plan
Distributed by: CBS Films
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
After researching The Back-Up Plan for a soundtrack review, I found that I had no real desire to see the film. It sounded too contrived to me and a bit far-fetched. However, after watching a lengthy promo on one of the DVDs I rented recently, I had a change of heart. The scenes they showed were truly funny and I realized that the only movies I ever liked Jennifer Lopez in were comedies. So, I rethought my decision not to see the film and rented The Back-Up Plan.
Jennifer Lopez is Zoe, a woman who left her high-power job to start her own business; a woman in control of her life and willing to take control of her own destiny. Deciding that she is now ready to start a family, she heads off to the fertility clinic to be artificially inseminated. On the way to her business, she hails a taxi and meets the man of her dreams.
Alex O’Laughlin is Stan, a small time businessman with dreams of turning his cheese farm into something much bigger. The two, after a rocky start, hit it off extremely well. Unfortunately, there’s just one minor detail Zoe has forgotten to tell Sam - she’s pregnant! Believing that Stan is Mr. right, but worried whether Mr. Right will stick around after he learns about her artificially inseminated baby-to-be, Zoe holds off on telling Stan about the pregnancy as long as she can, then cringes at his reaction.
Used to being let down by people she has trusted, Zoe expects Stan to take off running and continues to do so despite his assurances otherwise. Can Stan convince Zoe that he is in it for the long hall or will he actually flake out when he realizes exactly what he has gotten himself into?
Jennifer Lopez is at her best when acting in comedies. Her facial expressions, comedic timing and ability to completely wig out on demand make her the perfect comedic actress. Although I haven’t seen him in anything other than dramas, Alex O’Laughlin holds his own in this film, most of the time as straight man to Jennifer Lopez and Anthony Anderson. The two actors have terrific chemistry and make a believable couple.
Anthony Anderson is hysterical as the seemingly put together Dad that Stan meets in the park one day while freaking out over the idea of twins. Anderson seems put together, that is, until his son toddles over with poop he finds in the sandbox. That’s when you get to see Anthony Anderson at his best, adlibbing lines and bringing the funny. Michaela Watkins is incredibly funny as the best friend and mother of four who offers stern warnings about motherhood but supports Zoe a hundred percent. Linda Lavin is terrific as Zoe’s grandmother, a woman who also believes she is in control of her life, but finds that she is scared to trust anyone too much, including her longtime nursing home boyfriend (Tom Bosley).
The single mothers group is hysterical and never so much as when they unite for the at home water birthing of one of its members. The way the mother-to-be latches on to Zoe during one of the most hideous and hysterically funny labor pain scenes I have ever watched - you’ll find yourself cringing while holding your stomach to soothe the laughter induced cramps. You would think the woman was giving birth to some kind of demon the way she carries on and the looks on Zoe and Stan’s faces are priceless.
But the real scene stealer here is Nuts, the handicapped Boston Terrier that was the impetus behind Zoe leaving her internet company job to start a pet shop of her own. These dogs (Nuts is played by three Boston Terriers) are simply adorable and I found I was totally in love with them within the first half hour of the film.
As a whole, the storyline is only somewhat believable, but since this kind of scenario would seem to perfectly echo the sort of luck some of us have - the reviewer’s included - I can see it being possible on a smaller scale. The on-again-off-again rollercoaster ride that is this couple’s relationship can grow a bit tedious, but the comedy more than makes up for that. It’s fairly easy to exaggerate giving birth and make it comedic, but I have never laughed so much at a birthing scene than the one featuring the single mothers in this film.
Jennifer Lopez comedies are usually fun and laughter filled and The Back-Up Plan is no exception to that rule. Containing a cast that seemed to be in perfect sync with one another, you could actually tell that everyone had a great deal of fun making this film. That much is immediately evident when you watch the deleted scenes in the film. The Back-Up Plan is a movie for someone looking for a light-hearted romantic comedy that they don’t have to think about too much to enjoy.