It’s been four years since Jennifer Lopez starred in a movie, and even longer since she appeared in a movie anyone saw: 2005’s abhorrent Monster-In-Law. Lopez still looks fantastic, but she’s aged out of the ingénue and single-gal-on-the-go roles that littered her early filmography. In Monster-In-Law, Lopez played a spunky dog-walker with big dreams. Returning to the big screen in the feverishly non-anticipated comeback vehicle The Back-Up Plan, she’s graduated to owning a successful pet store.
Yet in spite of her professional success, Lopez remains unfulfilled in her personal life. Despairing of ever finding the right man, and keenly attuned to the relentless ticking of her biological clock, Lopez gives artificial insemination a try, only to discover the man of her dreams (Alex O’Loughlin) at exactly the same time. When he learns she’s carrying twins whose biological father she’ll probably never meet, O’Loughlin begins to wonder whether he’s emotionally prepared for the challenges of parenthood.
The Back-Up Plan begins like a typical frilly, superficial Lopez vehicle. She’s got a cute job, a cute wardrobe, cute employees, and a cute disabled dog, plus she meets cute with a cute guy when they hop into the same cab. At a certain point, however, The Back-Up Plan stops even trying to be funny, and wrestles with the challenges facing a couple that skipped straight from the honeymoon stage of their relationship to the raising-children-together stage without hitting many stops between. Yet the film’s admirable attempt to move into deeper waters and explore the stresses and joys of a unique instant family proves an awkward fit with cutesy comic touches like wacky dog-reaction shots, spit-takes, and multiple instances of comic fainting. The Back-Up Plan is a film divided against itself. It’s really two movies, one silly and one serious. Too bad neither is particularly compelling.