Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Freaking. Torture. That’s basically what it was like sitting through this movie ‘The Back-Up Plan’. Freaking. Torture. Except on those occasions when it made me laugh because there were three or four good laughs in this movie for me. Thing is I had to sit through the entire movie to get to them and that sucked for me.

Say hello to Zoe as played by the absolutely beautiful Jennifer Lopez. Jennifer Lopez has always been beautiful but she’s been gone a while having babies and whatnot so I forgot how beautiful she was but, if director Alan Poul does one thing right in this movie it is photograph his star because girlfriend was looking good from the painful first frame to the brutal final frame in this movie. The years are piling up a bit and Zoe wants to have a baby and while she would have preferred to be knocked up by Mr. Right, Mr. Right doesn’t seem to exist so it’s artificial insemination time as performed by kindly Doctor Harris (Robert Klein). So happy is Zoe that she might possibly be with child, she leaves the clinic singing in the rain and grabs a cab. Damn if Stan (Alex O’Loughlin) grabs the same cab. They argue a little bit, both get out the cab, both catch the subway… note that this movie takes place in a super clean, nice person bastardized version of NYC… and go their separate ways. But we know love is around the corner.

Now we are hanging out with Zoe and her best friend Mona as played by actress Michaela Watkins who has been saddled with the role of funny, far less attractive buddy as any self respecting Romantic Comedy should have in its cast. Lo and behold at the farmers market when we see Stan again selling his gourmet cheeses and love will blossom. Damn if it doesn’t look like Zoe has found Mr. Right. Damn if Zoe’s first try at Artificial Insemination worked like a charm on the first try. With twins no less.

Stan for his part believes he’s met Miss Right because not only is Zoe hot has hell but she is also independently wealthy and has a very loose moral code which leads her to have unprotected sex at the drop of hat with men she’s just met. Can’t beat that with a baseball bat. He’s freaking out a little bit about stepping into a ready made fatherly situation but love just cannot be denied. Not wanting to deviate from the RomCom plan Stan needs a funny, less attractive friend as well so out of nowhere appears Anthony Anderson to fill that role offering sage and funny fatherly advice to this guy he’s just met.

It is a RomCom so boy must lose girl, boy must get girl back… but wait… boy must lose girl again and now boy must get girl back for real. Will Zoe overcome her fears of abandonment and find love with the guy she’s just met? A college dropout with a basic distrust of women who has a dream of making cheese? Of course she will silly.

Normally, my friends, the only way I would go to see a movie such as ‘The Back-Up Plan’ would be if I was on the losing end of a bet but the powers that be dispatched me to see this movie even though I begged them to send someone else. Truth be told I would rather watch a bad Sci-Fi Channel movie than a good Romantic Comedy and unfortunately ‘The Back-Up Plan’ was a bad Romantic Comedy. I don’t dislike all romantic comedies now because not only is ‘You’ve Got Mail’ my favorite Romantic Comedy but its also one of favorite movies but we are talking Hanks, Ryan and Dave Chappelle as the less attractive funny guy and that’s a hard combination to beat.

One of the problems with this particular Romantic Comedy, at least from where I was sitting, was that hardly any time was spent actually building up a relationship between our two leads. They meet and they are pretty much in love from there. I think we are supposed to buy into the fact that they are both beautiful and this is the kind of thing that happens with beautiful people. I imagine the basis of any ‘romance’ is having a believable romance to fall back on and this movie doesn’t that have anything close to that. Pile on some dialog which at times is so painfully bad and so ridiculous that it actually hurts your ears, and now we have some serious problems with this dialog heavy Romantic Comedy.

But not all is lost. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t bust out laughing a couple of times during this movie, even though the laughs were slapstick in variety. The support in this flick was actually pretty damn good. Anthony Anderson, Michaela Watkins, Linda Lavin who will always be 'Alice' to us and Tom Bosley, who is amazingly still alive, not to mention that silliness that was provided by the ladies in those 'single and proud' parent meetings… all that peripheral stuff was kind of working a little bit. Jennifer and Alex… not so much. It’s not really the actors themselves were completely at fault, but the pair didn’t have any real natural chemistry together and again no time was spent trying to build a relationship so it was mighty difficult to buy into them being a legitimate couple. Alex O’Loughlin spent a lot of time with his shirt off and Jennifer Lopez spent a lot of time looking at Alex O’Loughlin with his shirt off and while this might’ve worked as a launching point for a solid loving trusting relationship for some, not so much for the majority I’m guessing. I could be wrong though.

I’m not a fan of the genre so take it all with grain of salt, but despite the presence of a couple of really solid comedic moments, ‘The Back-Up Plan’ was freaking torture to sit through. Torture I tell you.

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