As far as cinema chicas go, Lopez is the bridge that gets you from Rosie Perez to Jessica Alba and, thus far, she is only one who has successfully top-lined a movie. Plan is the seventh movie Lopez has starred in, beginning with Selena, but her first since 2005's Monster-in-Law (which took in a hearty $155 million worldwide). In the meantime, in-between time, she has co-starred in three movies, El Cantante (with her husband Marc Anthony), Bordertown (with Antonio Banderas) and An Unfinished Life (with Robert Redford) that have a total haul of $33 million at the box office.
Then there is the matter of La Lo's age. Twenty-eight when she winningly portrayed the Twenty-three year-old Selena, Lopez is now forty-one. As Julia Roberts ruefully demonstrated in the box office failure Duplicity, it is much more difficult to sell plucky ingenue-ness at forty-two than it was at twenty-two (Pretty Woman). The camera is no longer kind to Roberts, and Lopez, just two years younger, is awash in the same danger water.
Let's not get it twisted, Lopez still looks awesome. Too awesome , perhaps, to play maternal clock challenged, pet shop owning Zoe who, with all her ducks in a row (minus one), decides to get herself inseminated by an anonymous sperm donor. Feeling giddy and with nothing able to rain on her parade, Zoe runs into Stan (Alex O'Laughlin) and fitfully realizes he is "the one" she had been waiting for all her life. Still, as played by the sleek and well-toned Lopez, one can't imagine this particular woman risking her fabulousness with a pregnancy.
All the essentials of modern romantic comedy are here: the "meet cute"; the initial mutual dislike; the dislike that turns into like; the like that turns to love; the love that leads to misunderstandings; the misunderstandings that leads to break-up; and the realization that leads to love and reconciliation.
The push-me/pull-you of The Back-Up Plan mirrors the broadly played mood swings of the lead character. A laugh out loud scene will be directly followed by a scene that will bring you down faster than a double-bill of Gigli and Jersey Girl.
O'Laughlin, 34, who has had respectable runs on little seen series (Three Rivers and Moonlight), plays the overwhelmed, exasperated and oft put upon Stan, who becomes not only J'Lo's main man but our man. Clearly enamored, Stan stands pat in the face of Zoe's frequent bouts of angst and insecurity. I mean, I realize Zoe is pregnant, but geez louise!, can a cheese-making farmer/econ student catch a break?
This being a movie about pregnancy, there are lots of body fluids to deal with including but not limited to vomit, urine and excrement. And surprisingly, each one elicits unexpected if not surprising gales of laughter. Let me insert here that comedian Robert Klein gooses the film nicely with his portrayal of Lopez's gynecologist.
Speaking of the sixty-three year-old Klein, it is jarring to see eighty-three year-old Tom Bosley (say it isn't so, Mr. C!) and seventy-three year old Linda Lavin (Alice) as Lopez's grandmother and her geriatric fiancé. It doesn't seem possible that these actors, who had their heydays from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties, could have gotten this old. Bosley, who is playing a ninety-three year-old in the film, looks too old for the part.
My heyday was also in the late to middle seventies and eighties. I am scared to look in a mirror.