Movie Review: ‘The Back-up Plan’

Movie Review: ‘The Back-up Plan’

The Back-up Plan is one of the year’s first genuinely witty romantic comedies. After years of dating, Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) has decided waiting for the Mr. Right is taking too long. Determined to become a mother, she commits to a plan, makes an appointment and decides to go it alone. That same day, Zoe meets […]

Jennifer Lopez and Alex O’Loughlin in ‘The Back-up Plan’ (Supplied publicity photo, 2010, Alliance Films)

The Back-up Plan is one of the year’s first genuinely witty romantic comedies.

After years of dating, Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) has decided waiting for the Mr. Right is taking too long. Determined to become a mother, she commits to a plan, makes an appointment and decides to go it alone. That same day, Zoe meets Stan (Alex O’Loughlin) – a man with real potential. Trying to nurture a budding relationship becomes a comedy of errors for Zoe and creates confusing signals for Stan. Anyone can fall in love, get married and have a baby, but doing it backwards is a real test.

Rather than repeating the same tired jokes about midnight cravings, the film goes a little deeper with body image and relationship issues. Zoe misses her “old ass,” while she and Stan struggle with their unique situation; from Stan’s point of view, he worries Zoe has become another person that has replaced him with a body pillow. While some of their problems are very real and serious, writers managed to inject humour into most of the situations.

Another key element to the film is the hilarious secondary characters. Zoe’s best friend (Michaela Watkins) is a mother of four, but thinks Zoe is crazy for wanting children because she hates her own – her dark humour is incredibly entertaining. Stan makes friends with a father (Anthony Anderson) in a nearby playground that has a similar view of parenthood, which means he causes Stan more concern than ease. Finally, the leader (Melissa McCarthy) of a single mothers support group (and its members) – or group for women without a penis partner – is so quirky, each of her appearances brings a laugh out loud moment. Overall, the recognizability of the cast is enjoyable.

The chemistry between Lopez and O’Loughlin is actually quite tangible. They appear to be a real couple, whether experiencing ups or downs in their relationship. The romantic moments they share appear genuine, however disastrous the results. Lopez has always excelled in these roles (see Maid in Manhattan), appearing natural and funny. O’Loughlin has made significant improvements since his previous endeavour as a private eye-slash-vampire in Moonlight, now more charming and believable while still smart and handsome.

One of the movie’s memorable innovations is a custom-made, convertible stroller that is simply inspired. On the other hand, the baby obsessed animation in the title sequence is funny but slightly disturbing too; nonetheless, it was a creative representation of Zoe’s ticking clock.