As soon as the opening credits for “The Back-up Plan” begin to roll, anyone with an ounce of sense should realize that what is to follow will be just another in the long line of shallow, predictable, juvenile, and virtually forgettable romantic comedies Hollywood is so fond of churning out these days. The credits are of the animated variety, and there’s nothing wrong with that (Think of the Pink Panther” films.), but these drawings look as if they are the work of a first-grade art school reject.
Unfortunately, the credits proved to be more entertaining than this cliché-laden that is completely devoid of any notable humor. If you are planning to miss any films this year, you might want to consider putting this one high on that list.
As the film opens, we are subjected to close-ups of Zoe’s (Jennifer Lopez) feet as she rests in the stirrups at her gynecologist’s office awaiting artificial insemination. Although she once had a high-paying job as an executive, she gave it all up to run a pet store specializing pet adoptions. She decided to do this after she purchased a handicapped dog and found out that it had been a product of a puppy mill.
Apparently the acquisition of a disabled dog triggers the maternal instinct in Zoe, and she decides that she wants a child. Because there is no man in her life right now and none on the horizon, she decides to have the artificial insemination procedure and hope for the best.
Now how hard is it to predict what happens next. Shortly after her visit to the doctor, Zoe meets a guy named Stan (Alex O’Loughlin), and the attraction is instantaneous. Of course Zoe’s sperm choice turns out to be a potent one, and now she is pregnant, but she also has fallen for Stan. So how do you tell the guy you want to marry that you are carrying a baby whose father is identified only as some numbers and letters on a vial of sperm?
This question, of course, is the dilemma at the heart of “The Back-up Plan,” which turns out to be nothing more than a monotonous retelling of the girl-meets-guy-girl-deceives-guy-guy-becomes-upset-and-leaves-girl-realizes-how-she-was-wrong-and-goes-looking-for-guy-who-really-wants-to-be-found-so-he-can-play-daddy-to-a-baby-that’s-not-his plot.
I have become very weary of repeatedly saying that in order to be successful, comedies should be funny. It’s not rocket science! Good comedies are funny. Bad comedies are not. It is as simple as that, and this comedy is about as funny as listening to a recording of fingernails scraping against a chalkboard.
Despite the fact that there are other characters in the film, this is basically a two-person movie, and that means it’s up to Lopez and O’Loughlin to carry it, and they don’t do it. First and foremost, the chemistry between the two of them is virtually nonexistent. Because neither one of them succeeds in making us care about the respective characters they portray, the entire film falls flat.
As I was suffering through the film, the following question occurred to me: Who said that Jennifer Lopez is funny? Yes, whatever gave her the idea that she is the same league with people Meg Ryan, Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon, Goldie Hawn, Sandra Bullock, Tina Fey, and many others? Lopez’s performance in this movie was lackluster at best. She merely went through the motions of playing the part, and at times she didn’t even seem particularly interested in what she was doing. In the film’s production notes, Lopez offered some insight into her character and the film.
“Zoe is a planner. She decides it’s time to have a baby and she sets out to make that happen. Stan, on the other hand, is much more of a free spirit. He’s not living out his dreams (He owns a cheese stand at a N.Y. farmer’s market.) but he’s relaxed into his situation. He’s not really thinking about the future, and certainly not looking to be tied down.”
After watching “Death at a Funeral” last week and seeing a comedy that provided some real laughs, it was a real effort to sit through a dud like this one. In fact, here’s something that should underscore just how pathetic this movie was. While the closing credits are scrolling by, we have the opportunity to see some of the outtakes, and most of the time this is a lot of fun. Well, even the outtakes weren’t funny.
“The Back-up Plan” (Give it a final score of 3.) probably wouldn’t even make the cut as a Lifetime movie on television. And because the film is so weak, it is painfully obvious that those responsible for making it had no back-up plan during its filming.