THE BACK-UP PLAN (12A)
ABSENCE should make the heart grow fonder but has anyone missed Jennifer Lopez on the big screen during her four-year hiatus to raise fraternal twins with husband Marc Anthony?
The slow-burning 1998 thriller Out Of Sight with George Clooney remains her best work, sandwiched between the camp B-movie Anaconda and numerous instantly forgettable romantic comedies.
Lopez makes her return to pouting in front of the camera in Alan Poul’s whimsical chick flick, which asserts that love happens when you least expect it.
In the case of The Back-Up Plan, love blossoms within minutes of Lopez’s successful career girl undertaking her first round of IVF to achieve her dream of a papoose to match her designer-label handbag.
In any other relationship comedy finding Mr Right would be a moment of joyful celebration but here the feisty heroine must deliberate whether to tell her beau that the fluttering in her stomach every time she sees him isn’t just butterflies.
Corporate high flyer Zoe (Lopez) gave up her stressful job and cashed in her stock options to buy a downtown pet store.
A chance encounter with Stan (Alex O’Loughlin), who runs a dairy stall at a New York farmer’s market, puts a healthy glow in Zoe’s cheeks and she is forced to confess everything to her employees Clive (Eric Christian Olsen) and Daphne (Noureen DeWulf), who take an active interest in her normally non-existent love life.
The fledgling romance goes from strength to strength and eventually Zoe is forced to tell Stan that in nine months he will be playing surrogate father to a pair of ginger- haired mewling tots. It’s a massive shock to the system and Stan wonders if he is ready for fatherhood.
Meanwhile, worrywart Zoe ponders whether she actually needs a man or if she should revert to her old plan of becoming a single parent.
The Back-Up Plan seems to have been written with Sandra Bullock in mind, mixing physical comedy (a pregnant Zoe falling face first into the back seat of a cab) with dewy- eyed emotional outpourings.
Lopez and O’Loughlin, who gets to flaunt his rock-hard abs during an interlude on the family goat farm, are an attractive pairing but there’s scant sexual chemistry between them. More worrying, Zoe spends so much of the movie activating the self-destruct button on the seemingly-perfect relationship with Alex, that we ultimately lose sympathy for her and agree she would be better off alone.