The Back-up Plan - Movie Review

  • 07 May 2010

Rating: 3 out of 5

As far as romantic comedies go, this is just about watchable. Even though it's both silly and sappy, it has a vaguely realistic tone that lets us identify with the characters. Even if the romance falls flat, the romance is sweet.

Zoe (Lopez) is a busy but single New Yorker desperate to have a child, so she heads to the sperm bank. After her doctor (Klein) helps her conceive, even a clash with an annoying stranger, Stan (O'Loughlin), can't ruin her day. Of course, she runs into him again, and this time notices that he's both annoying and drop-dead gorgeous. So how will he react when he finds out that Zoe is pregnant?

Director Poul adds a slight edge to what's essentially a sunny rom-com. The unambitious script makes Zoe a pet store owner (cute puppy alert!) who attends a support group of single earth-mothers (nutty side character alert!), and everyone else is a standard comedy type, from snappy employees (Olsen and DeWulf) to wacky grandparents (Lavin and Bosley). But there's a nicely tentative quality to the dialog, which the cast underplays refreshingly. The slapstick and swoony romanticism are less convincing. As are the contrived conflicts that drive the plot.

The oddest thing about this film is its ordinariness. Both damaged by past relationships and personal grief, Zoe and Stan are normal people who find common ground and sparks of attraction in the usual ways. Of course, we know the genre rules will kick in. And it doesn't help that the film has that simplistic-artificial sheen in which people over-react to everything, have sex with their clothes on and get misty-eyed on cue. Although at least they actually talk to each other.

Since this is such a standard romantic comedy, the big worry is that screenwriter Angelo will wimp out with a lame late-act plot twist. Fortunately, she doesn't draw out the angst too long, and the surprises aren't too terribly forced. But for a film about the fears of commitment and impending parenthood, this is never more than charming and sentimental. It's a cute, undemanding romance but, besides watching the adorable Lopez and O'Loughlin, there's not much to it.

Image caption The Back-up Plan

Facts and Figures

Year: 2010

Genre: Comedies

Run time: 106 mins

In Theaters: Friday 23rd April 2010

Box Office USA: $37.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $77.5M

Budget: $35M

Distributed by: CBS Films

Production compaines: Escape Artists, CBS Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 18%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 115

IMDB: 5.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Alan Poul

Producer: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch

Screenwriter: Kate Angelo

Starring: Jennifer Lopez as Zoe, Alex O'Loughlin as Stan, Danneel Ackles as Olivia, Eric Christian Olsen as Clive, Anthony Anderson as Dad, Noureen DeWulf as Daphne, Jennifer Elise Cox as Babyland Salesgirl, Melissa McCarthy as Carol, Tom Bosley as Arthur, Maribeth Monroe as Lori, Linda Lavin as Nana, Michaela Watkins as Mona

Also starring: Robert Klein, Todd Black, Steve Tisch