The year was 2002. You couldn’t go anywhere without being inundated with Jennifer Lopez. She was in the movies, on the radio, all over products at the mall, and on the front cover of every cheap tabloid. Yes, J-Lo was most definitely poised to be the next huge international super-star. But then she just sort of faded away. Fast-forward eight years and Lopez is back, starring in the romantic-comedy The Back-Up Plan. Oh how her star has faded!
Here she plays Zoe, New York corporate mogul turned pet store owner. She’s found career satisfaction but hasn’t been able to find Mr. Right. But she doesn’t want a silly thing like that to stop her from having kids so she decides to be artificially inseminated by an anonymous sperm donor. Then, just when she least expects it, she meets the man of her dreams. It’s Stan the goat farmer (Alex O’Loughlin)! They end up jumping into the same cab just as she’s leaving the doctor’s office after her procedure. This is actually the third time this year that I’ve seen a movie where two people meet by accidentally getting into the same cab. Over-used plot contrivance?
The idea behind The Back-Up Plan is decent. If the script had been written differently and had actually addressed the issues the film raises, this could have been a smart and fun romance. But the plot is really only there as an excuse to use every pregnancy joke in the book. You know, cravings for bizarre food, not being able to fit into clothes and of course, raging hormones. None of the jokes are even remotely funny because we’ve seen them so many times before. And Jennifer Lopez just isn’t that great with physical comedy. Maybe I would have gotten more laughs out of the film if I had ever been pregnant myself and could “relate” but somehow I seriously doubt it.
Besides the total and complete lack of humor and the horrendous plot, The Back-Up Plan fails in almost every other major area. The most obvious is that the main characters are completely lacking in likability. At the beginning of the movie, I was actually rooting for Zoe because I thought she was an independent woman taking control of her life, despite the rotten hand that had been dealt to her. But then it became painfully clear that she’s alone in life because she’s a distrusting psycho, completely incapable of commitment.
Stan is a nice enough guy but doesn’t have much going on upstairs. On their very first date Zoe reveals to him that she’s loaded, thanks to some stock options from her past life in the corporate world. Still Stan spends almost the entire film suffering in silence wondering how he’ll be able to pay all the baby-related expenses with his meager goat cheese profits. When he flips out and finally reveals his fears to Zoe she reminds him, “I have money saved. Don’t worry about it.” Doh! I guess he must have forgotten about that.
I can only think of one thing that I really liked. Zoe owns a cute little dog that is paralyzed due to his birth in a puppy mill. Maybe that will bring some attention to the issue of puppy mill cruelty. But besides that, there is absolutely nothing of value in this film. If you are planning on buying The Back-Up Plan please execute your own back-up plan and pick another movie!
The Backup Plan arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 2.35:1. Here’s another proof that Sony just doesn’t simply become comfortable with decent transfers, but instead strives for the best. Colors are surprisingly vivid and natural for a romantic comedy. Black levels are deep and well reproduced throughout. Detailing throughout the film is fantastic revealing all the nuances in the film. Skin tones are natural and lifelike. For all it is worth, The Back Up Plan looks fantastic on Blu-ray.
The Backup Plan arrives on Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. This is another unexpected good mix for a romantic comedy from Sony. The dialogue is clean and crisp throughout. The rears provide some support for atmospherics that help to bring in some level of reality into the soundstage. These effects are mostly heard during scenes in the streets and in the country side. Music sounds great throughout, whether pop music or just instrumentals, it is very clean and fills the soundstage quite nicely. Overall, The Backup Plan sounds great on Blu-ray.
There are only two features on the disc and they’re both essentially worthless. I would have really liked it if they’d added some interesting featurettes. Maybe something about the paraplegic dog would have been nice or maybe even a short documentary about goat cheese or farmers’ markets in New York. Oh well. In the end I was satisfied that both features were short.
Deleted Scenes – These scenes don’t add anything to the plot or to character development. They’re just more of the same – lame attempts at laughs.
Belly Laughs: The Making of The Back-Up Plan – This is your standard, cheesy “making of” feature. Everyone talks about how much fun they’ve had and how much they love each other. J-Lo talks about her babies a lot. And I discovered that Alex O’Loughlin has an accent in real life. It sounds like he’s probably from Australia. This does not elevate my opinion of his acting.
Please don’t bother with The Back-Up Plan. Even if you’re a diehard fan of Jennifer Lopez, I wouldn’t recommend this purchase. Maybe someday she’ll regain her luster but her star is most definitely not shining here. If you’re looking for a really good comedy about a romance during pregnancy, check out Knocked Up. It’s out on Blu-ray right now and would make a fine addition to your collection!