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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.

Set in that fantasy Manhattan that only exists in romantic comedies—the one where you can step to the curb on a rainy afternoon in midtown and take your pick from a half-dozen cabs—The Back-up Plan makes no effort to be plausible. Which is fine for a romantic comedy, but in this case the script’s clever concept painted itself into a corner: If our lovers are by definition perfect for each other, there’s no conflict to provide plot momentum. So the movie lurches from one artificially conceived (ironic, no?) spat to the next, providing at least three more cute make-up scenes than any film can comfortably support.

How much you might enjoy this depends entirely on your affection for Lopez: Fans might eat this up, but general audiences may feel that she lacks the star power to carry such a weak script. The writer and director are from television, which means they have a facility for crude humor that approaches but never crosses the line into “R” territory. There is a birthing scene that the preview audience found hysterically funny for reasons that escaped me, perhaps because I have never actually given birth myself. There are also two instances of things that I could have done without seeing ten feet high on a movie screen, but I don’t want to spoil that for you. There is also a McDonald’s product placement that couldn’t be any more in your face had this been filmed in 3D.

m. faust

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Watch the trailer for The Back-up Plan

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