The Back-up Plan (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner06/05/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 106 mins

Disappointing romcom that has an original premise and some nice ideas but ultimately drowns them out with poor writing, irritating support characters, an overdose of sentimentality and a string of painfully unfunny gags.

What's it all about?
Directed by Alan Poul, The Back-up Plan stars Jennifer Lopez as Zoe, a single New York pet shop owner who's desperate to have a child before it's too late, so she decides to get artificially inseminated. However, on the day she discovers she's pregnant, she falls for attractive cheese farmer Stan (Alex O'Loughlin), who just might be the man of her dreams. But how will he react when he finds out she's having a baby?

The Good
Lord knows Jennifer Lopez hasn't had much luck with romcoms in the past: Maid in Manhattan, Jersey Girl, Gigli, Monster-in-Law and in particular the execrable The Wedding Planner are amongst the worst romcoms ever made. Stacked up against those, The Back-up Plan is probably Jennifer Lopez's best romcom, but that's not really saying very much.

To be fair, Lopez and O'Loughlin are an appealing couple and there's a decent amount of chemistry between them. The film also deserves points for its original premise – the fact that the script centres on a man coming to terms with becoming a father to a child that isn't his is pretty progressive, at least in Hollywood romcom terms.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the script promptly drowns its premise in bad writing. The arguments are unconvincing (it's almost impossible to resist shouting better lines at the screen), everyone overreacts horribly and there's way too much of the sub-EastEnders device of someone interrupting a character's “I've got something important to tell you” speech. On top of that, the film ends up being swamped in cheap sentimentality and the conclusion, while admirably not exactly a cop-out, doesn't entirely ring true either.

In addition, the film wastes a strong support cast (Anthony Anderson and Eric Christian Olsen, both proven comic talents) by giving them almost nothing to do while spending too much time with other irritating, stereotypical characters (Zoe's Single Mother Support Group) who should have been cut out. Similarly, the middle section is badly paced and frequently boring.

Worth seeing?
As romcoms go, The Back-up Plan is watchable enough but it's ultimately disappointing, thanks to a badly written script, a slow and frequently dull second act and some painfully unfunny jokes.
The Back-up Plan London Premiere

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Content updated: 16/07/2018 00:19

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