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The Back-Up Plan Not Funny

Published April 22, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of CBS Films
The Back-Up Plan Poster The Back-Up Plan
The Back-Up Plan isn’t just not funny. It’s actually offensive. It’s one of those movies about how people should get whatever they want and believe whatever anybody else says, so they don’t have to make their own decisions but get to keep all of their ego.

Review: The Back-Up Plan

Now, I’ll believe that a woman as pretty as Jennifer Lopez can’t attract a responsible father type. A woman like that probably does only attract hot losers. At least she’s happy in her decision to become a single mom. Of course her best friend hates kids. She has four. Maybe if you had a responsible family size you wouldn’t be so bitter. Also, bitter does not equal funny.

Showing characters complaining about parenthood is not the same as preparing folks for the reality of child rearing. You should be talking about realistic expectations and collaboration when there are two parents involved. I’m still single but I want to have kids and I’m worried that movies like this will scare all the potentially good mothers away.

When Zoe (Lopez) meets Stan (Alex O’Loughlin), it’s the dumbest bickering over a cab. It’s selling the usual hate-love, but it’s not even funny. “I’ll give you a taste of my cheese” is actually supposed to be a funny line of double entendre. It’s not. Confusion over the expression “bought the farm” is also not funny. Even a sweet first date becomes stupid hijinks.

A lot of the jokes are just outright lies. Nana tells Zoe the senior citizens in their walking group can’t hear her. Then they hear what she says and she’s embarrassed. That’s not a joke. That’s a lie. You lied to us. You told us one thing and then it just wasn’t true. You’re a liar.

The film’s visual language is Cinema for Dummies. What do you think is going to happen when she’s distracted in her car. What do you think when it looks like she’s confessing something directly into the camera? Even if there weren’t 100 years of cinema history rendering those gags irrelevant, it still falls under the lie category. They want us to think one thing so they can change the payoff comedically, but it’s cheating if you’re just lying.

Zoe owns a pet store so there’s a bunch of animal crap like in the Matthew McConaughey and Ben Stiller movies. Those aren’t jokes, but they’re in there. Zoe also gives up basic social etiquette, wolfing down a stew that’s simmering in the kitchen. I don’t care what cravings you’re having, you can wait until dinner is served. Also, women don’t like sex! That’s hilarious, because you’re unhappy in your relationship.

Lopez looks good working out and adorable doing the pregnant schtick. It’s not funny, but she’s hot. The instant orgasm is kind of cute, although those jokes are always derivative of When Harry Met Sally and it should be on the record that it wasn’t THAT funny in that movie.

The storytelling is just lazy. Stan says things that get taken out of context, and they avoid conversations at random, and they’re not funny. At least someone tells her she’s thinking too fast and should just spend time getting to know the guy. That’s something (but she doesn’t listen.) Finally, Stan talks like a grown up but the movie still follows the generic plot motions. At least it says you shouldn’t harp on a single word, but I’m not giving this movie extra credit for fumbling its way to basic values.

The Backup Plan is bad storytelling, not funny and socially irresponsible. The film has a really hateful view of single moms. My God, I just want to tell all the single moms out there that I don’t believe this movie and I do respect you.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of CBS Films

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