The Friday Movie Blog

Planning to see The Back-up Plan? Have a back-up plan. Plus: The Losers

The Back-Up Plan
(PG-13, 2010)
“Did he say his name was Sting?” That question came from the women sitting behind me. It was also the exact question I had just asked myself. Surely this couldn’t be the leading man’s name—a cheese-making goat farmer; it was too far-fetched, right? But, the awful Glitter had a character named Dice. And, perhaps, the writer was just a big Police fan? So accepting that anything was possible—I just went with it. Unfortunately, the (misheard) name would be the most interesting thing about this muddled, glorified TV movie.

The Back-Up Plan stars Jennifer Lopez as Zoe who, forgoing the notion of finding the perfect man, decides to start a family by herself. After her first (and successful) artificial insemination, she meets the man of her dreams, Sting (Alex O’Loughlin). It is a clichéd set-up for a clichéd film. [SIGNUP]

Lopez admirably attempts to give life to her lifeless character, but she’s no match for the lazy sitcom script. During one particularly excruciating exchange, Zoe says to Sting: “I don’t expect you to stay.” To which he replies, “I don’t expect you to expect me to stay.” These are not things said by real people; nor are these real people. While we know that Zoe left a corporate position to open a pet store, this plot point seems to exist only to explain her current wealth. Additionally, Zoe states that family is very important to her, yet never once do we meet any of Sting’s family or friends. It’s like you are looking into a diorama filled with familiar backgrounds, but inhabited by flat, cardboard-cutout characters.

The movie relies on the prosaic traits of every other dating and pregnancy movie. Like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days meets She’s Having a Baby, or Knocked Up meets… well… Knocked Up. Man surprises woman with a magical, silver-trayed dinner with paper lanterns (because nothing is more romantic than paper lanterns?). Check. Lengthy discussion about how cute her ass used to be? Check. Wise older person she turns to for guidance? Random, quirky characters who exist only for cheap laughs? Cute animal? Check, check, check!

Some might forgive the movie’s faults simply because it’s a romantic comedy—something wistful that should be enjoyed not scrutinized. But unlike the recent Date Night, which proves it is possible to take clichés and turn them into something smart and new, The Back-Up Plan ultimately feels trivial and outdated.

By the way, we finally learned that Sting’s name is actually Stan. Understandable—but frankly, it was kind of a letdown. (In theaters; click here to find where it’s playing near you.)
My Grade: D+

The Losers
(PG-13, 2010)
My toe was throbbing. We had just finished watching the one and only preview when some man—weighed down by his concession stand purchases—came barreling down the aisle. Unfortunately, this was the one time I forgot to wear my steel-toed, movie-goin’ shoes. It hurt. A lot.

So, to say The Losers got my mind off of my toe is really saying something. The plot, based on a DC Comics comic book and somewhat similar to The A-Team, is inconsequential—CIA agents are bad-asses; CIA agents get framed by CIA; CIA agents plot revenge. What makes this ridiculously over-the-top movie fun to watch is, unbelievably, the clichés of action flicks: witty repartee, explosions, multi-vehicle crashes, and guns…lots and lots of guns. Main characters even jump from some stuff to some other stuff (it took every ounce of self-control not to scream out “parkour!”). I know that I dismissed The Back-Up Plan for its reliance on clichés. But The Losers at no point takes it self seriously. It recognizes itself as pure entertainment and boldly blows up another helicopter.

The Losers will not be on anyone’s Best lists this year. But it will whet audiences’ appetites for the coming summer blockbusters. (In theaters; click here to find where it’s playing near you.)
My Grade: B-