Movie Review: ‘Second Act’ Starring Jennifer Lopez
Well, Jennifer Lopez fans have something to get excited about this holiday season as the release of her new comedy Second Act will be hitting theatres on December 21. The film, which follows Lopez’s character Maya as she struggles to prove that street smarts can equal book smarts as she attempts to get a cooperate position after fifteen years of working as an assistant manager at a local grocery store had several forthcomings from the poorly cut trailer advertising the film. That being said, I found myself fairly surprised with the unraveling of the plot as the formula was quite different from Lopez’s rap sheet of subpar romantic comedies.
One of the most surprising aspects of the rom-com were the supporting characters and their comedic relief, more specifically, Leah Remini’s character Joan, best friend opposite Lopez’s Maya. Most of the laughter stirring the theatre during the screening were from scenes involving Remini, as her non-stop cursing found both her and her children in quite a bit of trouble (something about kids using obscene language on screen is oddly comedic.) Alan Aisenberg, who plays scientist Chase and Charlyne Yi who portrays Maya’s corky assistant Ariana, also created an on-screen combo that seemingly worked well in the film’s favor. Vanessa Hudgens and Treat Williams also surprised me with their characters as they seemed to break from the mold of traditional “cooperate” enemies attempting to stop the protagonist from reaching success, and also had an interesting dynamic involving Maya’s character that rounded the characters out, giving them more depth. It was Milo Ventimiglia’s character Trey that fell short for me. It was almost as if the director Peter Segal said “Hey, you know that beloved character Jack Pearson you play on This Is Us? Be that character, we want people to like you.” And with that, his character seemed flat and recycled.
Setting the film aside from other romantic comedies is that the romance wasn’t the foreground of the plot. Instead, it was more of a side-story and was done well enough to not distract from the bigger picture. Ultimately, the film follows Maya as having no college degree and minimal education, but what she does have is plenty of experience, a will to succeed, and a career-driven mindset. After being passed up for a cooperate position by her current employer of fifteen years, Maya is stunned to find out that her God-child took matters into his own hands, creating a fake resume, falsifying college and work experience, as well as an impressive set of skills that lands her an interview as a consultant for a major make-up production line. It might have been some lies that got Maya the interview, but it was ultimately her ‘street smarts’ that landed her the job. The plot then continues as Maya strives to succeed in this new dog-eat world of corporate America as she tries to live up to the impressive woman the company believes her to be. Ultimately, audiences are left with a story about the importance of honesty, virtue, and that your academic background and upbringing does not disqualify you from a successful life.
Before reviewing the film, I didn’t have high expectations from Lopez’s latest attempt at an acting career, but found her latest venture pleasantly surprising. The release date of the film, being amid the holiday season, which is packed with highly anticipated blockbusters does make me question the film’s success. Sharing a release date with Aquaman and Bumblebee (the latter of which is receiving high praise from Rotten Tomatoes,) and just two days after the release of Mary Poppins Returns, I think its fair assumption to worry that the opening weekend might not prove that Second Act is the feel-good movie of the season that it is attempting to be. However, if you find yourself looking for a little bit of comedy, or wish to avoid the crowds of the competing action flicks, and you don’t mind spending roughly two hours in J-Lo movie, then I recommend giving Second Act a shot. It won’t be circulating for any awards in early 2019, but was enjoyable enough for me to have said I wasn’t as disappointed as I’d thought I would be.