The Back-Up Plan (Blu-ray)
Remembering back to 1998, I distinctly recall being a fan of Jennifer Lopez after OUT OF SIGHT. Despite the lame pop songs and the blah romantic comedies, I felt J-Lo had a great screen presence and I always enjoyed her performances, even if I wasn’t terribly impressed with her films. But somewhere post-Bennifer, Lopez lost whatever it was that made her enjoyable in movies and THE BACK-UP PLAN continues her streak of horrible films and second rate performances.
But it’s not like the film was ripe with opportunity. The idea of a man and woman meeting and falling in love shortly after the woman gets artificially inseminated is awkward before the first scene is even filmed. No matter who you have playing in the lead roles, there’s always going to be this level of discomfort that exists in the film. Therefore, the screenwriter has a great burden to write likable, fun characters that the audience can relate to. In this case, screenwriter Kate Angelo didn’t come close. Temporarily ignoring the uninspiring performances from Lopez and Alex O’Loughlin, the characters we should have been rooting for were shallow and poorly developed. We knew next to nothing about them or their motivations and that put extra pressure on the two lead actors that seemingly couldn’t be bothered to add anything to their characters.
Missing all of his TV performances, this was my first exposure to Alex O’Loughlin and my initial thought is that he’s not ready to be a leading man. Every line was delivered awkwardly and out of rhythm. Part of that is poor directing, but the other part is O’Loughlin not being able to relate or understand his character. A guy dealing with the frustration of falling in love with a woman who is having a kid from another guy is a tough, tough concept and there were times his character could have used some inspiration and some emotion. But we didn’t get that and therefore, the audience couldn’t connect with him. J-Lo was just as bad and despite numerous movies, J-Lo’s timing couldn’t have been worse and she looked so fake and unnatural that her appearance didn’t fit the character. I understand J-Lo always looks good in real life, but her character didn’t seem like that and having her with perfect hair and make-up right after getting soaked in the rain was an insult to the audience.
As with all romantic comedies, THE BACK-UP PLAN had a handful of supporting characters that were there to provide some quick laughs. But I was confused as to their purpose since it felt like the filmmakers went out of their way to include them in the film. Anthony Anderson appeared a couple of times as a random father on the playground. He would have worked much better as the best friend and needed a bigger role. J-Lo’s best friend, played by Michaela Watkins also had some good lines, but again, her role was too small and was never fully explored.
I understand rom-coms are meant to be cutesy and provide some feel-good romantic moments to the audience, so nitpicking on specific plot points is pointless. With that in mind, the ending came together in ridiculous fashion. We had the quick break-up-then-realize-they-love-each-other, but the whole thing was forced to an obnoxious degree. By the time the ending came around, I didn’t want them to be together because I was afraid the filmmakers would have them break-up again, and then the movie would never have ended.
Video: Surprisingly enough, the video looked really, really crisp. This is one of the better transfers from Sony, despite being one of the more disappointing films.
Audio: The audio wasn’t quite as nice, but it was sufficient for the dialogue.
Deleted Scenes (5:12): I would say these were on par with the quality of the film, which of course means they were pointless and unnecessary. Plus, we get more Alex O’Loughlin, which by this point was too much.
Belly Laughs: The Making of The Back-Up Plan (11:36): We got off to a bad start when Alan Poul tells us he laughed out loud at the script and then cried at the end. Did he read the right script? After that, we get the typical making-of featurette.