The Back-Up Plan (2010)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sometimes, a comical premise is not enough to save a movie that should have stopped when it was ahead… and, unfortunately, this movie relies a lot on its capacity to be “funny,” in the process masking the heart of the story. Some of you might have seen the trailers or read a blurb about The Back-Up Plan and thought it sounded awful, but something about it looked comical enough for my mom and I to be interested – plus the opening credit concept was really cute. (Which may be about the only compliment this film is likely to get.)

All the good guys are either, married, previously attached… or just not interested, and Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) notices that. Already a woman who has a difficult time letting anyone get too close and as a currently unattached female, she feels like if she doesn’t act quickly, her dreams of becoming a mother may never be realized. So… instead of the marriage bit coming first, she decides to take matters into her own hands. First she approaches best friend Clive (Eric Christian Olsen) to be the father of her baby – and that’s all, when he refuses, she instead decides to use an anonymous donor to fulfill her dream. Immediately following the procedure, she meets the irresistibly perfect gentleman Stan (Alex O’ Loughlin). After multiple chance meetings and Stan’s persistence, Zoe begins to second guess her pregnancy… and when she learns that the procedure did take – in spite of the slim predictions, she is afraid of what will happen, so she tells him the truth, figuring it to be the last time she’ll ever lay eyes on him.

Confused, upset, and not feeling equipped to be a dad before the prospect of a promising relationship is given much of a chance, Stan decides to give it a go because while with Zoe, he felt that special something spark between them. So he returns to Zoe with a stack of pregnancy how-to books and a carton of ice cream. Life quickly becomes a maze of doctor visits and shopping for the elusive perfect stroller, but the longer they are together, the more they quarrel… and the deeper they fall, but is the pair ready for the baby carriage, and then… marriage?

For those of us who like entertainment to be just that, the foremost turn-off for audiences who desire genuine laughs over crude gags will be the sometimes vulgar material the script adds into the comedy – mainly relating to pregnancies. Buried somewhere beneath the rubbish is a heartwarming story. I am just not sure it will be something many girls will be getting in line to experience. Recently, I finally purchased and am enjoying ClearPlay services which consist of a specially programmed player and a yearly or monthly service to download and use the filters. Those of us that believe marriage comes first then children might have some moral issues with the movie, but my own personal take on this story – and movies in general is this: watching the story unfold is not going to suddenly corrupt my way of thinking or standards. I know Zoe’s thinking is a little skewed; just because the movies promote such ethics doesn’t make them the proper way of doing things. The only problem is, a lot of girls don’t think that way and assume that if they see it done at the movies, it automatically becomes “acceptable.” Liberals don’t want us to equate marriage with archaic practices (marriage and then children), instead their method is morally twisted – it is the reason behind so many break-ups and divorces. Some of us might not appreciate the films take on motherhood either. One woman claims to “hate” her children; a father claims parenthood is awful, and nearly everyone discourages Stan and Zoe from having children. Most of the material is merely played for a laugh but it revolves around someone becoming a parent and bemoaning the chores of parenthood as equaling the end of life.

I don’t dislike the movie. It is heartwarming when it wants to be and there is a genuine feeling between the leading couple – eventually one of mutual respect and love. Acting is decent and it was fun to see the late Tom Bosley in something; Lopez is charming as ever and she plays off Alex well.  This ‘plan’ might not be something I’ll readily recommend to others, but if watched edited, it is cute enough (but The Proposal, this isn’t) with some fluffy dialogue and adorable moments that become more than just a romantic comedy – it is just sad they couldn’t linger longer.
(Although PG13, this pushes the bounds; an uncomfortable birthing scene is on-screen, which puts Zoe on edge during her pregnancy [Zoe falls into the water and the camera isn’t shy about showing several scenes while the mother is giving birth, including a reflective shot of the baby emerging]. Dozens of references to male and, mostly female anatomy are discussed during doctor visits, and everyone is pretty frank about the birthing process and various sexual jokes are present. Stan and Zoe share a bed – including sleeping together after only two dates. There is an f-word, several uses of sh*t, a**, da*n, and even taking the Lord’s name in vain, in various forms.)


  1. Hey Rissi! Thanks for linking to my review! I haven't watched this since I wrote my initial post (keep meaning to, just haven't gotten around to it yet). I think you make some excellent points here -- as someone who does not take their "moral cues" from Hollywood, I can watch this and for entertainment purposes -- and while it can be crass, there's a certain heartbeat underneath it all that I remember liking. One of those to recommend with caution, I guess I could say. ;) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I did "like" the movie, Ruth, but thought it could have used some "filtering" in the content. (Actually, I did see it edited, but the trailers and other reviews were telling on their own.)

    Yes, it does have some cute moments, and I'd watch it again, but it certainly wasn't my favorite "rom-com." I hope you enjoy it whenever you see it again, and who knows? - a second viewing may even improve my opinion of it. =)

    The link... you're welcome! I had been meaning to ask you if it was okay if I ocassionally did that and never got around to it. I think I'd seen you link to other places on your blog, so I assumed you wouldn't mind, but if you did, I would remove it without question. My intention is to link to other blogs once I get more "established" and learn more about blogging. Or that is what I'd like to do. =D

    Thanks for dropping by, Ruth; as always, I enjoy the opinions and comments.

  3. Ruth, I really appreciate what you said about how we can watch a movie and yet, it doesn't automatically change our convictions. I know I have those types of movies. Frankly, anything that involves sex outside of marriage does that to me....but I do enjoy some of those films.

    I saw the end of "the Game Plan" on TV once...and it seemed cute. But I much preferred "The Proposal" over what I saw....

    Have I told you lately how much I enjoy reading what movies you put up?!

  4. Maybe because I really like Alex O'Laughlin, I hated this movie all the more because I felt humiliated for him acting in something like this; every time it tried to be funny, it failed because it fell into crassness. I saw it unedited and man, was I uncomfortable squirming my way through it. Ugh.

  5. Ella - I am all the time saying what Ruth mentioned about movies. If you cannot look at a movie as "entertainment" and nothing more, than one should probably not watch anything. The sad part is, most kids who watch these movies don't have good influences telling them this.

    Yeah, unless you see this edited, I cannot say it's worth the time. I did enjoy it, but like I said, it isn't "The Proposal." =)

    Charity - maybe you should try watching it a second time but edited...? I would see it again but only if watched on Clearplay, otherwise, I'd tend to agree with you - it isn't great.

    Great thoughts everyone, as always! =D

  6. I've been thinking I should give it another go on my ClearPlayer... I might like it better without all the crass childbirthing stuff. =)

  7. Hiya people! Great discussion I think! :)

    Rissi - It's absolutely okay if you ever link to my blog, in fact I am thrilled & honored whenever that happens! So thank you! And I think you're doing a terrific job here. :)

    I do strive to be discerning in my movie and TV watching -- sometimes with more success than others. The Back-Up Plan is one of the films that pushes the envelope a bit more than my "norm," if you will -- I think it's because of the heartbeat beneath the shenanigans.

    I do hope ya'll won't think less of me for admitting this, but the home childbirth scene had me laughing so hard I was crying in the theater -- I can't hide it, sometimes my sense of humor is FAR FAR less than high-brow... :P

  8. Charity – it IS definitely better without all the crude humor. Check it out sometime.

    Ruth – no, I most certainly do not think less of you. =) Actually, even edited they left a lot of the “home birth” scene in the movie. They just trimmed a few of the more “graphic” bits out. I don’t think that was what bugged me about the movie (really, I just laugh at those sorts of scenes in movies because they are so darn over-dramatized). For me, what would have REALLY annoyed me was to listen to all the crude dialogue. That is what annoys me most. I can take a well-done “suggestive” scene that only lasts a minute - tops as opposed to continuous crummy dialogue. "Back-Up Plan" does push the PG13 rating, but yet, it does have a good heart; one just has to look a little harder.

    Thank you for your kind words: they are so encouraging to a just-getting-started-blogger. =)

    And, yes, Ruth is right: great thoughts everyone - I love reading them.

  9. ...and, I am pleased it's okay to link to Booktalkandmore! I always love to read your reviews, Ruth. =)


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