No segue. Seen this trailer a lot, can’t wait to never see it again.
The story looks like it’s about a woman who wants to work a job that befits her education, but hasn’t been able to get to where she wants to be. Thanks to a friend, she gets an interview with a job that she’s qualified for, but her résumé is completely made up, so I presume the movie is about enjoying the perks.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Jennifer Lopez (ICE AGE 5 ), Leah Remini (stuff I’ve either never heard of or seen), Milo Ventimiglia (CREED II , and the upcoming THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN ), and Vanessa Hudgens (DOG DAYS , and the upcoming POLAR ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Peter Segal, known for GET SMART (2008), TOMMY BOY (1995), and the upcoming MY SPY (2019). Co-writing the screenplay are Justin Zackham (THE BUCKET LIST ) and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of). Composing the score is Michael Andrews, known for INSTANT FAMILY (2018), BIG SICK (2017), NEIGHBORS 2 (2016), DADDY’S HOME (2015), and the upcoming HEADLOCK (2019). The cinematographer is Ueli Steiger, known for THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004) and AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME (1999). Finally, the editor is Jason Gourson, known for BLAZE (2018), and the upcoming MY SPY.
Just going to put this on record, I don’t like what I hear about Jennifer Lopez. No, I’ve never met her, and I don’t know anyone that knows her, but when enough people share stories about how she treats her personal assistants poorly, I’m more inclined to believe those that know her more intimately than those who have only had brief encounters with her. Her diva behavior is also something I do not respect, if her laundry list of demands wherever she goes is anything to go by.
Setting that aside, I do not look at this movie and think that it’s going to be good. A standard, “older person can still pursue their dream job” type story. Let me act like a prophet and just take a wild guess what this movie will be. Jennifer went to school, never found work for her degree and settled for a retail job. Her friend helps her get an interview and forge her résumé, feels guilty for a bit, but after not getting her due respect at her other job, she commits to the newer job, lying about her qualifications the entire way through. Sooner or later, someone will figure out that she’s been lying and that puts her in hot water at the end of the second act, likely getting fired. The first half of the third will be her moping and doping about, possibly getting her other job back, and then her boss from the bigger job likes her so much that he gives back her job and happy ending for all. And for bonus points for myself, Vanessa Hudgens is the random villain of the movie.
This is my honest opinion of: SECOND ACT
Maya Vargas (Jennifer Lopez) is a forty year old woman who is stuck at a low-paying job and has earned a place in a higher position after fifteen years worth of experience at her store. Her boyfriend Trey (Milo Ventimiglia) breaks up with her when she doesn’t want to start a family, due to past regrets, and makes a wish that she could at least get a job where her talents would be appreciated. Her best friend Joan (Leah Remini) and her son Dilly (Dalton Harrod) forge a new Facebook page and résumé and sent them to a company called Franklin & Clarke, which sells beauty products, and they call Maya in for an interview. The interview goes well, despite being taken by surprise by the near-fake identity. She earns the job and soon finds herself in a competition between two sections of the company, one making a repackaged face-cream product that isn’t organic, headed by the owner’s daughter Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens), and Maya’s team, who wants to create a completely organic product. Soon, truths are revealed, and hi-jinks ensues.
While I won’t say it was as bad as I predicted, this still wasn’t my favorite movie.
Let’s tackle the positives. For one thing, the acting is pretty good. Much as I don’t like Lopez as a person, I admit that she’s a good actress. She has charm and has a good range of emotions from comedy to drama. Standouts for me are Ventimiglia, who is so underappreciated since his HEROES days. Even Hudgens kind of surprised me. Usually I don’t think about her one way or another, but she hit the dramatic notes quite well. I think, for my tastes, Remini stole the show. I mean not many people had funny lines, but everytime Remini came on screen I caught myself straightening in my seat. We so rarely see her in movies. She’s either, causing controversy on a TV show by replacing another actor or waging war against Scientology. Keep fighting the good fight, girl!
But that’s as far as the praises go. I’m going to go on record and say that it’s nearly impossible to talk about my problems with this movie without going into spoiler territory. So from this point on, there are some MAJOR SPOILERS ahead. So if you don’t want this information revealed turn away now and just know that I don’t really recommend this. So, onward we go.
This movie is sadly pretty unfocused. What is it really about? A middle-aged woman pursuing the career goals that she thought were closed off, or is it a reunification story about a mother reuniting with the daughter she put up for adoption? It’s hard to say both because neither plotline has anything to do with the other. It’s not like Maya is playing a game of tug-of-war with being a career woman, or a mom. These aren’t conflicting plot lines. The movie was fine enough when she was just a woman proving her worth to the company. But once we find out that Zoe is her daughter, arguably the more interesting of the two stories takes center stage. By that point, who really cares about the contest? Hell, the movie barely cares about this plot point either, as it’s handled in the laziest and most frustrating way possible. Because Zoe isn’t aware that Maya wasn’t a successful person… by the standards of a rich, white upbringing, Maya feels compelled to lie to Zoe because “she has to see me as who she thinks I am.” This is bullshit. She wants a relationship with her daughter that’s built on a foundation of lies. It’s never a smart move, as later on Zoe’s angry with her. Big shock. Tell the truth and take your hits, or be strategic about when you tell the truth. Granted, Maya telling the truth about her résumé of her own volition was refreshing, as any other movie would have had someone finding out about her fictional qualifications and causing further contrived conflict. However, there’s just no reason to lie to Zoe.
Even if you wanted to focus exclusively on the company contest, there’s no reason to feel for the antagonism between Maya and Zoe, as no matter who wins the contest, it can only benefit everyone in this company. So what’s there to be invested in? It’s not like if Maya loses the contest she loses her job. She wasn’t on some trial run either. She was hired. She got a job that put her skills to the test. She no longer had much more to prove.
Another reason why the relationship between Maya and Zoe didn’t work is that I didn’t connect with the emotions between the characters. For one thing, this twist is way too coincidental that’s a very company she’s working for just happens to be partially ran by her long-lost daughter. That’s some divine intervention shit right there. Also, this plot comes out of nowhere. But all of that could be forgiven if Zoe was a better defined character, which she’s not. In fact, I was almost right that she was the villain of the story and prior to the big reveal, that’s how her character was treated. She was a bland, uppity, and snobby villain. The closest thing to humanity that we see out of her is when Maya makes Ron (Freddie Stroma), another bland asshole of the story, look like an asshole in public. That’s not enough to connect with her when she realizes that her professional rival is actually her biological mother. As I said, good acting from Lopez and Hudgens, but the emotional connection to that acting isn’t there.
Even the Ron is a useless character. When Zoe is dropped as the main villain, Ron takes over, and he’s built up to the be the guy who will discover who Maya really is and reveal that information. But nope, Maya reveals that information herself and we never see Ron again. What a waste of a completely pointless character.
Overall, I can’t be too mad at this movie as it did subvert my very low expectations. I admit that the performances are fine and especially Remini stealing the show, but as a coherent narrative, it’s disjointed. Half of the movie has nothing to do with the other half and there doesn’t seem to be anything at stake, leaving little to no emotional engagement. I’d say as a recommendation this is a rental at best, but even then, you’re not missing out on much.
My honest rating for SECOND ACT: a weak 3/5
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