Hammering Out . . . The Back-Up Plan

Hammering Out . . . The Back-Up Plan
The Back-Up Plan.  98 mins.  PG-13.  Directed by Alan Poul.  Written by Kate Angelo.  Starring Jennifer Lopez, Alex O'Laughlin, Michaela Watkins, Eric Christian Olson, Anthony Anderson, and Linda Lavin.

JULIE: Well, thanks, John.  It's pretty rare that we get to go to the movies together these days, and what film do we waste our afternoon babysitter on?  The Back-Up Plan.  This piece of drivel makes your much-maligned Bride Wars look like The Shawshank Redemption.  How bad is this film?  Let me count the ways.

1) I'm not sure that there's a more annoying romantic comedy actress out there than Jennifer Lopez.
2) Who is this male lead person?  I've never seen him before in my life, and I don't think I ever want to see him again.
3) The third lead in this movie was a gimpy dog to whom the camera often turned for reaction shots.
4) This film makes women look, simultaneously, like baby-crazed psychos and baby-hating shrews.
5) It also presumes that any woman who would choose to have a baby on her own must have several screws loose (unless she looks like Jennifer Lopez, in which case she just should've waited five minutes for a guy to come along and jump into her cab).
6) One usually does have to suspend a certain amount of disbelief when watching a romantic comedy, but the plot holes this film expects the filmgoer to jump over are insurmountable.  The mood swings by both leads, the over-the-top and inappropriate reactions to different pieces of news, the fact that BOTH of them ended up at a home water birth for some unexplained reason, that someone would choose to take her all-important pregnancy test a mere five minutes before a first date and in front of her  annoying dog who might think the pregnancy test would make a good chew toy.  And so on and so forth.  But I've dragged on.  What did you think?  You loved it, right?
JOHN: Uh, no.  I hated it.  I knew I would hate it.  And may I point out that when I floated the idea of going to see The Back-Up Plan with you yesterday, it took literally zero convincing.  I think I said it, and a second later, you were on board.  Please don't pin the blame on me.  Heck, you can deny it, but I know you secretly enjoy Bride Wars (which is ghastly), so don't act like The Back-Up Plan is something totally outside your wheelhouse.  You can look at this movie as a waste of your afternoon, and to a degree, you're right.  It kinda is.  But sometimes, it's fun to see a movie so worthless and artistically inept as this - you feel smarter than the filmmakers, and that's a good feeling.  I think your points are all spot-on.  I hated all the dog reaction shots - an act of desperation if you ask me (when all else fails - cut to the dog!).  Sadly though, those reaction shots worked like comedic clockwork with the rest of our audience, who laughed every time.  Idiots.  The J-Lo issue really irks me too.  I love J-Lo when she's a tough, badass chick like in Out of Sight - her one good movie.  Why doesn't she take on more of those roles?  She should be more like Angelina - not Meg Ryan.  But she takes on these miserable romantic comedy roles that only require her to be cutesy and totally non-threatening.  You can practically see her trying not to make waves in an attempt to appeal to everyone, and in the process, she just comes across as fake.  I liked this movie so much better when it was called Baby Mama, and starred Tina Fey.
JULIE: To be fair to our audience, I think many of them were laughing at the movie and not with it.  Well, some of them.  I think the ladies directly behind us identified pretty whole-heartedly with J-Lo and all her predicaments.  Who knows.  Maybe they have a gimpy dog on wheels at home too.
And, OK, yes, it didn't take much convincing to get me to go to this movie.  I'll admit that.  I also saw Leap Year with you this year (which wasn't much better than The Back-Up Plan).  I do like to feel smarter than the filmmakers.  And based on how well you predicted each step of this movie, I'm not 100% sure you didn't write it.
You know what else?  J-Lo was great in Out of Sight, but I don't think she has that performance in her anymore.  That ship has sailed for her.  She's too concerned with this unappealing cutesy image she's trying to project.  I, for one, am done with it (and her) until further notice.
So...Is it settled?  We can do this again in a few weeks when we go see Just Wright?
By the way, I give The Back-Up Plan a well-deserved */*****
JOHN: One-star, eh?  Well-deserved indeed, if only for that jaw-droppingly stupid and grotesque home birthing scene.  What was with the actress giving birth in the tub?  Who thought it was a good idea for her to moan like a goat while delivering?  Even better question - who thought it would be funny to have her poop in the tub?  I feel like writer Kate Angelo was trying to make the movie sort-of appealing to guys by including lots of poop and sex jokes (not unlike last year's The Ugly Truth), but it felt strained.  Gross-out humor in a romantic comedy is Judd Apatow's domain - all others need to study his movies, otherwise they might as well not even try.  Oh, and the lead actor is Alex O'Laughlin, a regular on failed TV series, and I know there are a decent amount of Moonlight fans out there who will probably be offended by our giving him such short shrift.  In all fairness to him, I don't think he's the problem here.  No - that lies squarely on the shoulders of the writing (why use the voiceover in the beginning and then ditch it?), directing (stop cutting away to that dog!), and, of course, J-Lo.  Not the worst romantic comedy of the year (screw you, Valentine's Day), but it still earns: * star.

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