A conventional reproductive romance that unconventionally revolves around high-tech immaculate conception, The Back-up Plan pits irrepressible maternal instincts against mutual relationship phobia. And though Jennifer Lopez is clearly the celebrity centerpiece of the story, she dilutes that diva attitude to allow the rest of the cast to substantially share the screen with her.
Lopez is Zoe in The Back-Up Plan, a down in the dumps Manhattan pet shop owner who has soured on men but longs for motherhood before it’s too late. A lonely career woman with lots of experience when it comes to puppy love – including her housemate Nutsy, a disabled two-legged canine on wheels – Zoe lacks affection of the human kind in her life. So she opts for artificial insemination, selecting a frozen sperm sample boasting red hair and freckles in the reproduction department.
But on the same day following the procedure, she meets a prospective man of her dreams, wouldn’t you know it. Okay, Stan (Alex O’Loughlin) is a cheese farmer with a booth at the local outdoor market by day and a guy still doing homework, plugging away at night school after hours. But Stan is hopelessly smitten, even if he’s stuck with a first trimester package deal from the start. Though as the reality of pending fatherhood approaches, Stan’s hots for Zoe increasingly succumb to cold feet. Even if Zoe is his self-described cheese muse.
While the story progressively loses steam on its way to the finish line, though somewhat in step with a pregnancy’s sluggish pace towards the due date, there are numerous episodic surprises. Including an affectionate if ditzy in the extreme single mom support group, and a candid look at just how awful those side effects of maternity can be, artificial and otherwise.
And Lopez is up to it and never camera shy, every step of the way. Even if she’s got to wipe beef stew off her face with a slice of bread when there’s no napkin around, during one uncontrollable pregnancy pigout episode. Not to mention a baring it all confessional monologue, explaining just how far south her own famous postpartum posterior had to go.
2 1/2 stars