Review: Second Act

PLOT: A working woman lands a fancy new job on Madison Avenue courtesy of an embellished resume. Will the GED earning woman be able to wow the suits? It's a Jennifer Lopez movie. What do you think?

REVIEW: It’s been awhile since Jennifer Lopez has taken on a light and fluffy comedy, you know, like MAID IN MANHATTAN and MONSTER-IN-LAW. This brings us to her latest, SECOND ACT. This time around, she portrays an assistant manager (or something like that) at a local store who dreams of becoming more. While this would certainly be an appealing idea for the superstar – a forty-something woman trying to start her life over again – it’s a shame that it is squandered with such a poorly conceived feature. Directed by Peter Segal (GRUDGE MATCH, 50 FIRST DATES), this second chance story is exactly what you’d expect to a major fault. Even with a couple of “surprises” along the way, the material runs the gamut from ridiculous to just plain dull.

Maya (Lopez) has had enough. After working in sales for fifteen years, she finds herself completely dumbfounded when she loses out on a promotion to a guy with a college degree. Unfortunately for her, Maya only completed her GED because life dealt her a bad hand. So when Maya’s best pal Joan (Leah Remini) comes to her with a message about a  job interview, one that she didn’t apply for, things begin to turn around. You see, Joan’s well meaning son Dilly (Dalton Harrod) “improved” her resume, and even created a fake Facebook account to make her look like she meets the requirements of a fancy new position at a large company. Surprise, surprise, she gets the job by charming the head of the company, Anderson Clarke (Treat Williams). The rest is the stuff that hardcore rom-com/feel good comedy fans may enjoy, but probably nobody else.

second act jennifer lopez vanessa hudgens milo ventimiglia leah remini peter segal treat williams dave foley comedy 2018 joblo.comFor about five minutes or so, this appeared to be heading in a decent direction. Yet the script by Justin Zackham and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas follows such a convoluted path, that it’s impossible to take any of this all that seriously. The series of events that follow Maya after she gets the fancy new job is ripped right out of a bad Hallmark movie, yet it tries desperately to play for the laughs. One storyline revolving around Clarke’s daughter Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens) is so damn convenient that you have to wonder why Clarke and his company are filled with morons. They seem to be able to find out some very secretive information, but they don’t appear to be very good at calling for references for their job applicants.

As for Lopez, I will give credit where credit is due. This is the kind of material she handles rather well, but it doesn’t help that the film features such poor direction and writing. This flick is filled with terrible camera angles, and badly staged sequences, so much so that it often becomes distracting. And even worse, every so often a character falls down for whatever reason. The random moments of “slapstick” are absolutely abysmal. It’s a shame, because there is promise in the idea of finding a second chance after making a few mistakes when you are young. But hey, let’s be honest here, it is bit of a stretch to watch Ms. Lopez as a working class woman struggling to get by. That being said, it would have been a bit easier to take had the film not been so damn uninspired and predictable.

second act jennifer lopez peter segal vanessa hudgens milo ventimiglia leah remini treat williams dave foley comedy 2018 joblo.comThe rest of the cast isn’t bad. Lopez and her on-screen romance with Milo Ventimiglia offers a little bit of chemistry. Treat Williams always tends to class things up whenever he is on screen. And of course, you have to have the best pal, this time played by Ms. Remini who works very hard to try and make the jokes funny – occasionally she succeeds. As far as the younger cast members, both Vanessa Hudgens and Dalton Harrod are pretty good. In fact, Ms. Hudgens seems perfectly cast in a movie such as this. Maybe if this makes a bit of money, the actress will find herself being offered more roles as the romantic lead. And while the side story for Charlyne Yi and Alan Aisenberg was just bad, the two actors managed to offer up a bit of charm to their oddball characters.

Earlier, the word predictable came up. And yes, every turn this movie makes is an obvious one. There are a few things that attempt to change the formula a bit. Sadly, it’s not at all difficult to figure it all out well before the reveal. Certainly that is sort of the nature of a comedy such as this, but here, it is about as lackluster as you can get. And then there is the music. The soundtrack offers up a few decent tracks, but it is a bit irksome when certain songs are played in scenes to emphasis the emotional context happening at that moment. We get it… she’s sad.

SECOND ACT is exactly what you’d expect, and frankly it's not a good thing. Sure, some people will be fine with the comfort food mentality of another Jennifer Lopez comedy, and that’s okay. However, it is really hard to see past the lousy script, the inconsistent direction and the paint-by-numbers character development. There is a laugh here and there, and the performances aren't bad, but it ultimately is just too dumb for its own good. You’ve seen this before and if you do decide to check this one out, you’ll definitely figure out nearly the entire plot well before the second act arrives.

Review: Second Act



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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.