Is it possible to hate a movie before the opening title sequence is over? I say yes! And for proof, I present to you Jennifer Lopez's excruciatingly lame pregnancy comedy 'The Back-Up Plan.'
The title sequence shows cut out characters, in the style of 1960s pop art, dancing around the screen. "Charming," you think to yourself. This seems like an amiable-enough way to start a movie. It harkens back to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies of yore, but with more cutting edge technological artfulness, and it's pretty to look at, for sure, until you actually, you know, think about it:
In the title sequence, as fizzy and forgettable as everything else in the movie, an animated version of Jennifer Lopez struts around an art deco New York. Everywhere she looks, objects turn into some element of her baby-crazed mind, with things turning into baby bottles, storks, strollers etc. It's "cute," sure, but it's also incredibly reductive and says a lot about the movie: our lead character Zoe, played by Lopez, will only have one thing on her mind: having a child. Forget about anything else, this is her primary goal, the thing that will drive each and every element of 'The Back-Up Plan.'
For a little while at least, the movie seems to be saying that Lopez will have the child on her own. We see her going out on a "date" with one of her coworkers, who refuses her request for a sperm donation. Instead, she is artificially inseminated.
She goes to classes and meets with her doctor (played by the great Robert Klein) and then she meets a dreamy stud Stan (Alex O'Loughlin, from the Joel Silver vampire show 'Moonlight') who runs an organic farm that sells stuff in Union Square's farmers market.
From this point out, the movie becomes less about a single, determined woman who wants to go through her pregnancy alone, a decidedly bold and feminist tale for a mainstream Hollywood comedy, and instead becomes a boring old romantic comedy. As the back of the box says: "Can Zoe hide her pregnancy until Stan is ready for the truth?" "or will the truth send him packing?" Just the wording alone is indicative of the problems with the movie: it's less about "her" and more about "him."
Instead, once Stan enters the picture it becomes a screechy, unfunny mess that fluctuates between the kind of "bringing up baby" comedic moments of something like 'Nine Months' with some gross-out humor (lots of references to poop) and some astoundingly anti-women jabs (the single mothers group that J. Lo is a part of rejects her when she gets a boyfriend). It's a toxic, unfunny mishmash that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Well, maybe my worst enemy. But everyone else should be saved the indignity and suffering of 'The Back-Up Plan.'
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Is 'The Back-Up Plan's' 1080p AVC MPEG-4 (aspect ratio: 2.35:1) transfer technically good? Well, yes, and I'm sure some people will absolutely flip for it, but it's not the best transfer you'll ever see, and those who are conned into calling it "great" are sorely mistaken.
Technically, everything is there: detail, skin tones, black levels; the whole nine yards. But there isn't anything that remotely makes this a "film-like" transfer: there's no grain, no dirt, no feeling of space or dimensionality. Everything looks good to the point of looking plastic, and the movie is over-lit and flat, feelings that are both amplified by the better-than-reality nature of high definition.
Will you be able to make out every chest hair on Alex O'Loughlin's body? Yes. Does that make it a great transfer? No. There's a key difference to the types of transfers that people respond to, those that look more inherently truthful and filmic, or those that just want the image to be scrubbed clean to the point that it looks like a bunch of Barbie dolls walking around on screen. I prefer the former. And while there aren't any nagging technical or compression issues, this transfer still falls flat.
Again, the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does its job but never really sparkles.
There's not much in the way of surround sound support, besides a few instances when Lopez is tromping around the city (the two characters meet each other while sharing a cab) or while she's at her new beau's upstate farm. Music sounds nice, both the orchestral score and endless line-up of pop songs. Just like the video transfer, though, everything seems superficial and for the most part flat.
Dialogue, however, is handed fairly well, with strong, crisp, clear reproduction that is often well prioritized (especially when handling the scenes with larger groups of people). But besides that, there's nothing that makes this mix particularly strong, it's just as flavorless as the movie that it accompanies.
It should be noted that this is the only audio option on the disc and the only subtitle options are English and English SDH. This strikes me as an odd decision indeed.
There aren't that many special features on here, and the lone "Blu-ray exclusive" is the MovieIQ feature that isn't really a feature as much as an annoyance.
'The Back-Up Plan' can be summed up in one word: terrible. Jennifer Lopez's romantic comedy puts the "pain" in labor pains, with an unfunny, crass, and often anti-feminist storyline that makes you squirm more than laugh. If there's one positive thing I can say about the movie, it's that it's relatively short. And the by-the-numbers Blu-ray disc, with average audio and video and a scant smattering of extras, isn't going to change anybody's mind. I'd say "skip it," but that seems too casual. It's more like "burn it." Or forget it ever happened, which shouldn't be a problem. One to avoid.