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Image: Jennifer Lopez
Peter Iovino  /  AP Photo/CBS Films
Jennifer Lopez's "The Back-up Plan" could have addressed a real issue, that of women wanting to be mothers with no man in sight. Bit instead it fell heavy for pratfalls and pregnancy cliches.
updated 4/21/2010 4:38:46 PM ET 2010-04-21T20:38:46

"The Back-up Plan" gets sitcommy early and often, and just for good measure, throws in old TV favorites Tom Bosley and Linda Lavin in brief roles.

But regardless of their presence, or that of the appealing (and frequently shirtless) Alex O'Loughlin in his first leading-man role, this is a vehicle for Jennifer Lopez, who is front and center and looking flawless at all times.

The first time we see her character, Zoe, she's at the doctor's office with her feet in the stirrups being artificially inseminated, wearing false eyelashes and perfect lip gloss. In case we couldn't possibly imagine what she's thinking, the script from Kate Angelo (a former sitcom writer) offers this helpful voiceover nugget: "Oh, God, I hope this works. I've wanted this for so long."

Yeah, it's like that.

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Video: 'The Back-Up Plan' Director Alan Poul (who also has a TV background) hits every obvious note, complete with pratfalls, pregnancy cliches and cheesy pop-music cues that signal the characters' emotions in painfully literal fashion. Of course, Zoe eats chicken and ice cream in bed while reading "What to Expect When You're Expecting." He also cuts away to Zoe's Boston terrier for cheap reaction shots so frequently, it could be a drinking game — and this comes from someone who's proud to be the human companion to one of these adorable dogs.

All these devices are in service of a plot that's pretty thin. After years of looking for the right guy, Zoe is prepared to have a baby on her own, only to meet and fall for the hunky Stan (O'Loughlin) just as she's discovered she's pregnant. Their meet-cute couldn't possibly be cuter: Both hop into the same New York cab in the pouring rain. And Stan couldn't possibly be more perfect. He's great-looking, romantic, goofy in a charming way, has just the right amount of roguish facial scruff, and he makes organic cheese at his family's farm upstate. Organic cheese, people! And somehow, he clearly still finds time to hit the gym.

Since they get together pretty early, the rest of the movie consists of contrived flare-ups that threaten to keep them apart. Will Stan freak out and walk away when he finds out Zoe is expecting? How will he react when he discovers she's having twins? Will Zoe freak out and walk away from Stan because of her childhood abandonment issues? Will there be a mad dash to the hospital once her water breaks? The answers to these questions are never really in doubt.

"The Back-up Plan" actually could have been helpful in addressing a situation in which so many women find themselves: wanting to be mothers, but unwilling to compromise to be with the wrong man to accomplish that goal. Instead, it presents the fellow members of Zoe's single mothers' group as tattooed, fringy freaks hell-bent on home water births and smugly breastfeeding their kids until age 3.

On the other end of the spectrum is Zoe's wisecracking best friend, Mona (Michaela Watkins of "Saturday Night Live"), a mother of four kids who are constantly running around and screaming. Admittedly, she gets the few funny lines "The Back-up Plan" has to offer. Lavin (as Zoe's Nana) and Bosley (as Nana's longtime nursing-home fiance) just look embarrassed in their few scenes.

The one moment that rings true? When Stan goes stroller shopping at Babies R Us and finds himself overwhelmed. And the store clerk just happens to be the actress who played Jan Brady in the "Brady Bunch" movies.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: J.Lo returns to the big screen

  1. Closed captioning of: J.Lo returns to the big screen

    >>> at walmart.

    >>> she can do it all. she can dance, sing and act. now jennifer lopez is coming out with her first new movie since having twins , "the backup plan," a romantic comedy about a woman who meets a very special guy on the very same day she goes through with a plan to be artificially inseminated . that doesn't sound like good timing. jennifer lopez , welcome back. good to see you. you haven't been here since 2007 .

    >> is that true?

    >> that makes this the longest maternity leave in the history of the "today" show. welcome back.

    >> thank you very much .

    >> how is mommyhood?

    >> it's good. i love it.

    >> the twins are --

    >> they're 2 now. they're walking and talking and telling me what to do.

    >> do you have new appreciation of terrible twos or is it kind of a myth?

    >> they're good. they're just into their twos. they turned 2 at the end of february. i have a whole year to go.

    >> "the backup plan," romantic comedy . you like this genre, point blank.

    >> i do. i love watching it. i force marc to watch it with me, the good ones and the bad ones. i love doing them. i really do.

    >> when you decided to do this movie -- you play zoe.

    >> yeah.

    >> the character is pregnant for a good portion of this movie.

    >> yeah.

    >> i'm thinking you just got done being pregnant with twins . what made you say okay i'm going to go do a movie where i am going to be pregnant again.

    >> i read the script i had just gone through all this stuff so it was funny to me. i knew it would be funny to other people, anybody who has ever had a baby and understands what that is.

    >> i mentioned she gets artificially inseminated and then meet this is guy, who could be the guy. she is taking control of her own life.

    >> a very modern woman, kind of used to being on her own because she's been on her own since she was very young. so, you know, it's not like a crazy thing to her. she's independent and she's like, you know what? i'm at a point in my life, i have everything i want and now i'm going to do this.

    >> you're playing a character who is about to be a mom. for the first time as a mom yourself, this sounds like one of those weird hollywood questions, but if you could give zoe one piece of advice about motherhood, what would it be?

    >> oh, god. one piece of --

    >> what didn't you expect?

    >> i don't know. i guess the lack of sleep is the worst part, but even that, i'm so used to that, being in this business, it wasn't even that bad. i don't know what advice i would give her. i don't know.

    >> the lack of sleep is a good one.

    >> oh, gosh.

    >> nobody quite understands.

    >> just get ready for that, mentally prepare.

    >> speaking of that, you're acting again. you're a mom, twins . you're recording again, i understand.

    >> yes.

    >> when is this new album expected out?

    >> probably the end of the summer . i'm working on it now.

    >> how are you squeezing in time for that? how does the day -- how does the weekly calendar work out?

    >> when you have kids, they just become number one. everything else just falls into the number two, three to ten spot, you know what i mean ? those spots.

    >> right.

    >> once you have that priority and once you have that perspective, everything else just kind of falls into place after that. as long as they're happy and kind of taken care of, everything else kind of comes after that.

    >> we know you're busy. matter of fact , you're so busy that i understand you have to kind of run from this interview . so, i'm supposed to actually -- being a gentleman.

    >> thank you.

    >> i'm supposed to actually escort you out.

    >> walk me to my car.

    >> because you have a cab waiting -- actually, you have like ten cabs waiting. i understand one of the things, as part of the movie, there will be taxis around manhattan today offering, what, free rides?

    >> the best way to get around new york . here is the thing. anybody gets into a backup plan cab today --

    >> yeah.

    >> we're picking up the cab. you get a free ride .

    >> it's a free taxi ride? this one over here?

    >> free taxi ride. let me give you a free entrance to the taxi.

    >> thank you. it's good to see you.

    >> good to see you.

    >> take care.

    >> take her wherever she wants to go, okay? good luck with the movie. we're back, right after this. did you find some sunglasses?

    >> oh, look.


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