by Matt Brunson
By Matt Brunson
THE BACK-UP PLAN
DIRECTED BY Alan Poul
STARS Jennifer Lopez, Alex O'Loughlin
Jennifer Lopez's first screen outing in four years isn't a motion picture so much as it's a new form of Chinese water torture: Seemingly innocuous at first, it continues to pelt the viewer with one abysmal scene after another until insanity seems like the only logical result.
Lopez stars as Zoe, a single woman who, tired of waiting for Mr. Right while her biological clock continues to tick away, elects to conceive through artificial insemination. But wouldn't you know it, as she walks out of the clinic, she bumps into a charismatic cheesemaker named Stan (Alex O'Loughlin), and they begin dating. Zoe waits until Stan falls in love with and makes love to her before she alerts him to the fact that she's pregnant and that he'll have to deal with this issue if he wants to permanently commit to her.
Zoe's actions throughout the picture make her a particularly odious heroine, but that's the least of this film's problems: More detrimental are the slapstick gags scripted by Kate Angelo and directed by Alan Poul, including (but not limited to) the scene in which Zoe wrestles with her dog for possession of a pregnancy test stick and the sequence in which a woman gives birth in a bathtub while members of her single-mom support group chant around her (speaking of the support group, this movie exhibits nothing but contempt and derision toward single women). There's also the usual rom-com character of the outspoken best friend (Michaela Watkins) whose wisecracks are supposed to be funny but are instead merely obnoxious, the expected cutaway shots to the mutt whimpering or barking whenever one of the humans says something stupid (needless to say, this happens frequently), and an unhealthy obsession with scatological humor.
The only bright spot is seeing '70s sitcom vets Linda Lavin (Alice) and Tom Bosley (Happy Days) in minor roles; the rest is unspeakably awful.