The Back-Up Plan – DVD Review

Artificial insemination appears to be a hot topic in Hollywood these days, especially if you can find a big-name actress in her 40s with the name Jennifer to star. Two films starring a Jennifer – Lopez and Aniston – have been released in 2010. You have Lopez’s The Back-Up Plan and Aniston’s The Switch. Neither film was released in the heart of the summer movie season, which should tell any hardcore movie fan that those behind either film don’t think they are as good as they had hoped.

In The Back-Up Plan, Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) is a successful businesswoman who gave it all up to own and operate a pet shop. Zoe is single, having dated plenty of men but not having found true love amongst them, but still wants to have a baby. Her solution is to get pregnant via artificial insemination and raise the child on her own via support from a group of single mothers her doctor refers her to. But as she leaves her doctor’s office she unintentionally gets into the same cab as Stan (Alex O’Loughlin), a dairy farmer and part-time student who runs a booth at the local farmer’s market. After they argue about who was there first, Zoe leaves angrily. Nevertheless Stan is intrigued by her. Later that day, Zoe and best friend Mona (Michaela Watkins) wander into the farmer’s market and see Stan working at his cheese booth. Slowly they start to fall for each other, but what will happen when Zoe has to tell Stan that she is pregnant with a random sperm donor’s baby?

The whole single gal-artificial insemination angle has been overplayed in TV episodes and films, but there is a shred of originality involved in that the old romantic comedy formula is added into the mix. But The Back-Up Plan is a typical romantic comedy in name only, at least for the comedy. Half of the jokes either have to do with pregnancy or parenthood but there is nothing that hasn’t been heard or said before. The other half involves slapstick from Jennifer Lopez and the hilarious hijinks of an unusual dog.

You really can’t blame the cast, though. Jennifer Lopez is still as charming as ever. Alex O’Loughlin is a relative newcomer (you may have seen him on the short-lived CBS series Moonlight), but he does a respectable job with his character. Lopez and O’Loughlin might not have the best chemistry together, but it’s still believable. The supporting cast is actually the best part of this film, minus the crazy group of single mothers who start to get annoying towards the end of the film. Anthony Anderson steals most scenes and really has the only laugh-out-loud jokes in the entire film. Michaela Watkins is also good as Lopez’s snarky best friend.

Jennifer Lopez might be back in the rom-com game, but her return with The Back-Up Plan is more of a quiet thud than a celebratory round of applause. If Lopez intends to stay there for a longer period of time she needs to pick better scripts than The Back-Up Plan. Lopez and O’Loughlin, along with the supporting cast, do the best they can, but they can’t rise this material above the tired and predictable that it was destined to from the beginning. Still The Back-Up Plan is watchable as long as you don’t expect it to be funny.

The video included is available in widescreen color presented at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The quality is pretty much what you expect from a newer release DVD. No major problems here.

The audio included is available in basic English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. No major problems here either.

“Belly Laughs: Making The Back-up Plan” Featurette – This runs 11 minutes and it’s your typical behind-the-scenes featurette. There is various interviews with cast and crew interviews. They talk about the creation of the script, and all of the funny stuff that happened while filming. A big EPK style piece really.

Deleted Scenes – There is 5 minutes worth of scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the film. Nothing too funny or necessary to watch here.

Jennifer Lopez is as likable as ever, and Alex O’Loughlin is good enough, but there is really nothing you haven’t seen before here. If you really love watching romantic comedies, even though you now what to expect going into it, then give The Back-Up Plan a rental. It’s certainly not unwatchable or the worst movie ever created. But only hardcore Jennifer Lopez or Alex O’Loughlin fans will want to consider buying this DVD.

Sony Pictures/CBS Films Home Entertainment presents The Back-Up Plan. Directed by Alan Poul. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin, Michaela Watkins, Eric Christian Olsen, Noureen DeWulf, Anthony Anderson, Robert Klein, Linda Lavin, Tom Bosley, Melissa McCarthy, Maribeth Monroe, and Danneel Harris. Written by Kate Angelo. Running time: 104 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: August 24, 2010.

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