Second Act – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: Peter Segal
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens, Treat Williams, Milo Ventimiglia
In cinemas January 25th
It’s not really the season for frothy films given that all the awards season heavy hitters are now in cinemas but J-Lo has never been one to do things conventionally. Hence this offering arrives to nestle between all the fact based dramas and worthy stories deemed fit for award nominations.
J-Lo plays Maya, a 40-year old woman working in a convenience store who is overlooked for promotion. Frustrated with her lot and with a little help from her friend Joan’s (Remini) son, she creates a new persona and lands a high profile corporate role in a cosmetics company. As is always the way in these “zero to hero” type films she apparently has a real aptitude for the role (despite having no proper education or training). Throw in a blast from the past, a frustrated boyfriend (Ventimiglia) who has difficulty dealing with her new ambition and a lot of soul searching about life and you have some pretty standard dramedy fare.
J-Lo is great in this but she is let down by a weak premise that hinges on a big reveal (that you see coming a mile away), which happens mid movie and allows everything to slide into total predictability. For the first half of the flick you get the impression they are going for the sassy, sexiness of Working Girl mixed somewhat with The Devil Wears Prada but from the mid-point on it completely loses its way and becomes extremely muddled. The cast do their best and are to be commended for what they bring to this but the script completely relies on coincidence and suspension of belief (beyond the usual dramatic realms) and is cheesy in the worst possible way. It’s like going to the fridge to get your favourite cheese and discovering that it is completely out of date and inedible!
It has some lovely scenes and moments but isn’t nearly as funny or clever as it thinks and becomes so contrived in parts that it will make you groan. Ordinarily this would be a nice antidote to the “heavier” cinematic fare currently on offer but the reality is that it’s a bit of a mess. On the plus side J-Lo’s wardrobe (for most of the movie) is fabulous and you will have serious shoe envy! But if you want shoe envy with a bit more substance you can re-watch Sex and the City.
This movie isn’t helped by the fact finds itself up against some pretty heavy hitters in its opening weekend. Alongside acclaimed Clint Eastwood offering The Mule it goes head to head with the much lauded and award winning Vice and hotly anticipated Irish flick Cellar Door. At any other time of year this frothy offering from J-Lo would no doubt do well irrespective of reviews but I just don’t think it can compete right now.
If you want something completely innocuous that demands no real analysis or focus then this is for you. And indeed if it were a Netflix offering it would be perfect lazy Sunday afternoon fare as you relax in your PJs and eat junk food. But as a big screen offering it is somewhat lacking.