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The Back-Up Plan

Essentially a less raunchy version of Knocked Up made for a female demographic, The Back-up Plan stars Jennifer Lopez as a 30-something who, despairing of ever meeting the perfect man, has herself artificially inseminated, only to meet the perfect guy on her way out of the doctor’s office. You just know that the first choice for this was Sandra Bullock, though putting Ms. Lopez and the phrase “back up” together does engender a snicker that the film is not unwilling to exploit. Mr. Perfect is played by Alex O’Loughlin, an Australian import with a perpetual three-day beard who resembles a cross between Hugh Jackman and John Cusack with all the edges rounded off. His role here is to look good without his shirt on, demonstrating that the filmmakers if nothing else are aware of just who their audience is.

The Joneses

There was a cable TV series a few years ago called The Riches, starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver as a couple of “travelers” (American gypsies who work bunco schemes) who, with their two children, move into the mansion of an upper-middle-class family and pass themselves off as the owners. It was cancelled after less than two seasons, which was a shame because there were so many more issues it could have explored (it was intended to last seven seasons). I felt the same way about this film, which has a somewhat similar theme. We first see the Jones family moving into a ritzy new house in an obviously expensive neighborhood. They are Steve (David Duchovny), Kate (Demi Moore), and teens Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth). They clearly don’t relate in the way most families do, and it’s not far into the movie before we learn why: They are employed as stealth marketers, hired to go into a community and present an attractive example of product use. They don’t sell jewelry or golf clubs or frozen sushi: They simply use them, and look great doing so, planting the subliminal notion in the minds of their neighbors that maybe their lives would improve if they bought the same stuff. (Schemes like this actually exist, though not on this level. Not yet, anyway.)

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