SECOND ACT - Review - We Are Movie Geeks



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Photo courtesy of STX.

While the holiday season packs theaters with awards-hopeful films, J-Lo offers her fans a lighter option with SECOND ACT. Jennifer Lopez has not appeared in a movie for awhile, so perhaps her fans are ready to see her on the big screen again. SECOND ACT may be on a big screen but its story is as much television as movie, a mash-up of wish fulfillment fantasy and sit-com stand-bys. J-Lo fans herself may be enough for her fans but others might skip this snoozer.

There is a J-Lo hit, “Limitless,” in the soundtrack but she does not do any singing in the film. She does dance a little in a couple of scenes, and those are actually the most entertaining moments in SECOND ACT.

The premise as Jennifer Lopez as the assistant manager of a big-box store in her New York neighborhood. The retail chain’s regional director is coming to visit her store and …is hopeful she will get her long-awaited promotion to manager. Cheered on by her boyfriend and best friend, she is confident of success.

It is not much of a spoiler to say she doesn’t get the promotion. Despite her hard work, innovative ideas and loyalty to the company, Maya (Lopez) has only a GED and is passed over for a new guy with a college degree. Lopez’s character’s is rightfully outraged at the injustice, and that is followed up a bit later with a snide comment from management about how hard it is for a 40-year-old woman to find a job. Unfortunately, those are the last honest moments in this movie, which then veers off into sit-com fantasy. Although the characters talk endlessly about being honest, all the rest of the film is cobbled together from familiar stock stories, including a couple of dashes of NINE TO FIVE and PRETTY WOMAN.

Having quickly moved Lopez’s character up the career ladder, SECOND ACT loses interest in the income inequality and the struggles of the working poor thing. Leaving the problems of real people behind, SECOND ACT plunges fully into movie fantasy land. Unknown to Maya. her computer wizard godson invents a very impressive resume for her and applies for a dream job as a product developer at one of the companies that sells products in her big-box store. In the real world, that raises all kinds of red-flags but in movie fantasy land, she gets the job, complete with corner office, a corporate apartment and even company credit cards. No one seems to question that sterling resume – well, one person does eventually, but the magical computer wiz deflects the few attempts to fact-check.

Having quickly delivered that bit of wish fulfillment, SECOND ACT needs something else to fill the time and then piles on additional predictably heartwarming stories, about a long-lost daughter and romantic troubles. And lots of talk about honesty.

Lopez is backed-up in this familiar tale by  three loud girlfriends who provide the standard laughs straight out of sit-com playbooks. There is also the perfect boyfriend, goofy co-workers and a not-very-effective villain for Lopez to dispatch in bit of slapstick. There are lots of “sincere moments” that feel entirely manufactured.

The story will not matter to Jennifer Lopez fans who just want see her on screen. And, OK, now some readers might think I’m being Scrooge here, bah-humbugging a feel-good movie. If you are happy with this kind of familiar story or just enjoy seeing J Lo, that’s fine with me. But since the film’s characters talk endlessly about being honest, it might be nice if the film had a little more honesty itself.

Really, only the biggest J Lo fan need bother with this recycled mishmash of a film. J Lo’s accent may be authentic but that is the only thing that is in SECOND ACT.

RATING: 1 out of 5 stars

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