Second Act: Film Review

I was looking forward to Second Act because it seemed like Jennifer Lopez was returning to the romcom genre after ages away. However, calling Second Act a romcom would be seriously inaccurate as the trailer and the premise are rather misleading.

Lopez stars as Maya, who has been working at a value supermarket for 15 years and knows her stuff but keeps being passed over for a promotion because she doesn’t have a degree. After an emotional birthday, her friend Joan (Leah Remini) gets her son to create a new, fancy CV for Maya and she gets a job at beauty company Franklin & Clarke. In her new consultant position she is tasked with creating a new all-natural skincare range, competing with Clarke’s daughter Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens).

The problem with Second Act is that it isn’t at all what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting this fluffy, fun, light romcom but then it ended up being this sentimental family drama. This twist comes out of nowhere and just complicates everything. It already had plenty going for it, it didn’t need this extra layer. I would have been content watching Maya trying to figure out her new job, testing new products, bluffing her way through the lies on her CV etc.

Second Act is funny though. There are many moments which made me laugh – like when she has to pretend she knows Chinese. I also loved Maya’s conversations with Joan, whose kids were hilarious, as were Maya’s co-workers Ariana (Charlyne Yi) and Chase (Alan Aisenberg). This is where the film and its screenplay works, but it falls down at the emotional family stuff. Most people will be rolling their eyes at the ridiculous plot turn anyway but some of the lines are baaaad and I just didn’t feel anything for anyone. Plus the themes of being true to yourself and not letting fear hold you back are hammered home pretty good. It was trying too hard to be something deep when people just came for an easy laugh and some sexy Milo Ventimiglia (he makes up the meagre romcom contingent).

I love Lopez in all areas of her career and it was lovely seeing her back onscreen in a movie like this. She is captivating and likeable and so bloody nice. My favourite thing was her onscreen chemistry with real-life best friend Remini. Their scenes together were a joy and I loved watching them bounce off each other. Ventimiglia doesn’t get much to do and isn’t in it nearly enough and Hudgens is in the exact sort of role you’d expect her to be in and gets the short straw on this one. I also want to give a quick shout-out to Annaleigh Ashford for being fabulous yet again.

Second Act wasn’t terrible at all. In fact, there was so much I liked about it – it was funny, uplifting and lovely, for the most part. But it’s not what you think it’s going to be and it’s hard to shake that confused, misled feeling. It didn’t need to be so complicated – simple would have been fine. Perhaps it should have learned something from the saying “less is more”.

In cinemas Friday 25th January 

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