Movie Review: The Back-Up Plan

backup_planI don’t know Kate Angelo, the writer of “The Back-Up Plan,” but after seeing the movie, it would appear that she’s never been pregnant, and doesn’t know anyone who has ever been pregnant. There isn’t a single note in this movie that rings true, resorting to cartoonish portrayals of the pregnant woman stereotype (they throw up, they get cravings, their hormones are out of whack) for cheap laughs. When they get really desperate, they cut to a shot of Jennifer Lopez’s dog.

Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) owns a small pet store, and her biological clock is Ticking Like This. After searching for The One for years and not finding him, she decides to get artificially inseminated. The same day she undergoes her first treatment, she runs into, and quickly fights with, Stan (Alex O’Loughlin), a local cheese maker, when they both hail the same cab. The two meet again at a farmer’s market, and Stan quickly wears down Zoe’s resolve. The two hit it off, and wouldn’t you know it, Zoe’s insemination worked. Now she has to find a way to explain to the guy she’s been waiting her whole life for that she’s already pregnant.

Lopez and O’Loughlin might be the most unlikable couple to ever grace a romantic comedy. His cockiness is supposed to be charming, but it comes off as slimy. He also forces her to apologize at every turn (men in relationships know that it just doesn’t work that way). Lopez, meanwhile, has no real discernible personality traits except a tendency to completely fly off the handle over the smallest things. Blame the script for that one – they needed to manufacture some late-inning conflict, and this is about the most manufactured conflict you’ve ever seen.

The same goes for the screwball. Zoe’s grandmother and sole living relative, played by Linda Lavin – in what universe does a lily-white woman like Linda Lavin have a purebred Latina like Jennifer Lopez for a granddaughter? – decides to get married after being engaged for over 20 years, and she books it at the same time that Zoe is due to give birth? That’s bad planning at best and selfish at worst; either way, it isn’t funny. And speaking of selfish, in an attempt to save their sex life, Stan throws the pregnancy pillow out the window. Any father will tell you that this is the most thoughtless, selfish thing a dad-to be can do. We won’t even discuss Zoe’s wacky support group of single mothers, though Anthony Anderson provides some late – and much-needed – comic relief as a father of three and mentor of sorts to Stan.

Jennifer Lopez has two children, so she knows what it’s like – what it’s really like – to be pregnant. You have to think that voice of experience was running through her head as she read the scene where she dips pieces of bread into a stew and eats like a feral dog. Perhaps she just went with it because, well, nothing else in “The Back-Up Plan” is grounded in reality, so why saddle the obligatory craving scene with logic or reason? A colossal mess, across the board.

0.5 out of 5 stars (0.5 / 5)

This review originally ran April 22, 2010 on

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