DVD Release Date:  August 24, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  April 23, 2010
Rating:  PG-13 (for sexual content including references, some crude material and language)
Genre:  Romantic comedy
Run Time:  106 min.
Director:  Alan Poul
Actors:  Jennifer Lopez, Alex O'Loughlin, Melissa McCarthy, Michaela Watkins, Eric Christian Olsen, Anthony Anderson, Noureen DeWulf, Meribeth Monroe, Linda Lavin

When trying to reassure his lady love that he won't leave her, no matter how crazy life with twins will get, Stan (Alex O'Loughlin) lovingly tells Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) that "some things can last forever." Thankfully, Stan's earnest gesture of devotion didn't apply to the movie itself.

After all, knowing the credits would roll eventually was the only glimmer of hope I had, considering just how bad The Back-up Plan is. It's not that Jenny from the Block doesn't give everything she's got in this pregnancy comedy gone seriously wrong, it's that she didn't have the wherewithal to turn down such a lousy script (or at least pull a major diva fit and demand a significant rewrite).

Apparently, women opting for artificial insemination because they haven't found Mr. Right by the ripe old age of 30 (yeah, they're shaving 11 years off Lopez's real age) is the stuff of pure rom-com gold these days. In fact, later this year, a character played by Hollywood's favorite single lady, Jennifer Aniston, endures a similar fate in The Switch. But hey, at least Jason Bateman is also starring, so there's bound to be a few sardonically funny lines, right?

With The Back-up Plan, however, audiences aren't quite so lucky. Other than Lopez's shameless knack for physical comedy in a host of unglamorous situations (shoveling large amounts of chili in her mouth with not one—but four—pieces of rustic bread or retrieving the results of her pregnancy test from a pile of doggie vomit, for instance), there's nothing particularly inspiring or entertaining about this bland story of a successful woman who hasn't exactly been lucky in love. Even her reasons for wanting a baby so badly that she'd resort to mating in a sterile hospital room are embarrassingly clichéd and ill-conceived.

Of course, if Zoe had just waited 15 minutes, she would've met her Mr. Right and skipped that hospital visit altogether. While getting into her cab, a cute guy with equally cute rom-com flaws (an unfortunate name and a penchant for droning on and on about cheese-making in case you're curious) tries stealing her ride home because you know it's just not very New York to simply share the cab instead.

And since Zoe and Stan's requisite meet-cute, not to mention their first dates, don't happen until she's already with child, there's a flimsy framework established for a story of what happens when a couple finds out they're becoming parents before really getting to know each other—think a much tamer (but far less funny) version of Knocked Up.

Even if someone manages to suspend his/her disbelief and buys into this lamely conceived plotline, however, there's nothing about The Back-up Plan that has any resonance in the real world. Not only is the dialogue incredibly unbelievable from the get-go, but the characters are just plain kooky, whether it's Zoe who left the corporate world to run an offbeat pet shop, her non-conformist grandmother who won't marry her 93-year-old fiancé because she's scared it won't work out or the gaggle of chanting, hippie-dippy earth mothers (including one who breast-feeds her three-year-old daughter) in the support group that Zoe joins when she thinks she's doing the whole motherhood gig by herself.


While eccentric characters definitely liven things up on most sitcoms (see "Northern Exposure," "Gilmore Girls," "Friends"), there are just too many oddities to provide any sense of connection in The Back-up Plan. Even when the characters try to inject a moment of realism into the proceedings by talking about how much raising a baby, let alone two, actually costs, it still comes across as disingenuous because everything in the script is so contrived.

This being a romantic comedy, and one that stars J. Lo in particular, you already know that everything is going to turn out okay, though. But be forewarned: the journey to happy-ever-after is littered with every bad pregnancy gag in the book, rendering the title more of a warning to stay far, far away than an actual selling point.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Social drinking.

  • Language/Profanity:  A smattering of profanity throughout including several instances where God's name is taken in vain and one use of the "f" word.

  • Sex/Nudity:  Zoe is artificially inseminated in a doctor's chair, and we observe all the gory details. Zoe and Stan sleep together on their third date, and once Zoe is further along in her pregnancy, she's quite turned on by even the slightest physical affection. All matters of pregnancy (and what happens anatomy-wise) are discussed in graphic detail. A mom is shown breast-feeding her three year old. Zoe's backside is briefly shown in a thong. A woman's lower region is briefly flashed during a childbirth scene.

  • Violence:  Only of a comedic nature.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.