Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Even on its own terms, ‘The Back-Up Plan’ remains unimaginative

Credit: O. Johnson

“The Back-Up Plan”

For all of its worthwhile attempts at dealing with complex subject matter: artificial insemination, masculine inferiority complexes and female intellectual agency: it’s safe to say that Alan Poul’s “The Back-Up Plan” does much more harm than good.

It would be pointless to waste ink criticizing this film for not rising to an arbitrary level of method acting or reaching a certain profundity of character development; those are givens. But, on its own romantic comedy terms, the film cannot escape the invisible vice-grip of its predecessors, routinely caricaturing its own protagonists and disingenuously treating everyone else: namely, a single mother’s group whose uncontentious goal is to empower women.

Jennifer Lopez, who plays the successful, hasn’t-found-the-one-yet pet store owner named Zoe, is the (not so) “intellectual” city girl, and Alex O’Loughlin, who plays Zoe’s farm-working McDreamy named Stan, is the (not so) terrestrial country boy. As fate: otherwise known as the film’s unimaginative and vexing script: would have it, Zoe meets Stan soon after she has been artificially inseminated by her doctor, who, of all people, enjoys the funniest scene in this lackluster movie when he calls out Stan (and all men) for treating the word “vagina” as a taboo utterance.

Beyond the repetition of “vagina” at decibel levels not fit for an indoor conversation and the random endeavors of Zoe’s dog who, because of his lame hind legs, must roll around and wreak havoc wherever she takes her, “The Back-Up Plan” doesn’t nearly provide the laughter it claims to foster. It feels a lot like one of those unmemorable and, often, insulting sitcoms that somehow manages to get enough of an audience to get renewed year after year. I wouldn’t be surprised if J.Lo takes another sabbatical to announce her comeback with yet another dull romcom.

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