Movie review: Second Act recycles old romcom cliches

Vanessa Hudgens, Leah Remini, Jennifer Lopez and director Peter Segal attend the 'Second Act' World Premiere After Party at West Edge on Dec 12, 2018 in New York City.
Vanessa Hudgens, Leah Remini, Jennifer Lopez and director Peter Segal attend the 'Second Act' World Premiere After Party at West Edge on Dec 12, 2018 in New York City. PHOTO: AFP

REVIEW / ROMANTIC COMEDY

SECOND ACT (PG13)

104 minutes/Opens today/2 stars

The story: Maya (Jennifer Lopez) is a supermarket employee with dreams of becoming the store manager, but she is continually overlooked as she does not have a college degree. When her friend's hacker son creates a fake resume for her, she lands a high-flying job at a skincare company. Everything appears to go well until a jealous young employee (Vanessa Hudgens) starts to suspect her.

The Second Act in the title here feels less like an opportunity for leading lady Jennifer Lopez to reign as queen of romcoms again and more like a platform for her to recycle old jokes.

Everything in the film here has been done before in other romantic comedies, including many of Lopez's own, such as Maid In Manhattan (2002) and Monster-In-Law (2005).

There is the sassy best friend (played by Lopez's real-life BFF Leah Remini) forever ready with a quip or two, the lessons about appreciating one's inner beauty, and the inspirational tale of how one can triumph in the corporate world with no college degree, but plenty of sincerity.

There is even that done-to-death scene in films such as Confessions Of A Shopaholic (2009), where Maya pretends to be fluent in a foreign language at a work meeting and somehow manages to not only survive it, but also become all the better-liked because of it.

Except that none of this, for a film in 2019, is funny any more.

 

There is nothing wrong with the traditional romcom - streaming service Netflix has been particularly successful at producing a string of fun ones recently, such as To All The Boys I've Loved Before (2018) and Set It Up (2018).

But those managed to feel fresh, thanks to either the breezy dialogue or casting choices - To All The Boys I've Loved Before is the first mainstream teen romance to feature an AsianAmerican lead.

This film, however, feels like it is stuck in the late 1990s.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2019, with the headline 'Second Act recycles old romcom cliches'. Print Edition | Subscribe