Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Back-Up Plan

August 21st, 2010

The Back-Up Plan - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

The Back-Up Plan is just the second film from CBS Films, a new spin-off studio under the Viacom umbrella. Their first film was Extraordinary Measures, which didn't win over many critics and utterly bombed at the box office. The Back-Up Plan found a bigger audience, but it still struggled to sell tickets, and its reviews were even worse. Granted, it is a romantic comedy and these films tend to follow a formula, which is something critics normally punish. However, within the genre, I tend to be quite forgiving, some might say too forgiving. As long as the two leads have chemistry and there is enough charm to fulfill the promise of romance, plus enough humor to supply the comedy, I rate these films as worth checking out. But can this film meet these criteria?

The Movie

We first meet Zoe with her feet up in the stirrups at her gynecologist's office. At first I assumed this was just a regular check up, but she's being artificially inseminated in the very first scene of the movie. (This is one of the problems in the movie, but more on that in a bit.) We hear her thoughts about what she is doing and flashback to her friend, Mona, trying to talk her out of it, and her other friend, Clive, refusing to be the donor. She wants a baby and there isn't any potential husbands on the horizon, so she's going to be artificially inseminated. It's that simple.

She's given up finding "the one" and so she undergoes her first treatment, but wouldn't you know it, she almost immediately meets a man, Stan. They meet in a typically sitcom fashion (there's a disagreement over a cab) and there's instant chemistry, at least the script seems to think so. They go out on a date, but she's worried about telling him about undergoing artificial insemination. At first she puts it off, because it is unlikely she got pregnant the first time. Turns out she did get pregnant, so she has to tell him. He freaks out a bit. They deal with it. They find out that not only is she pregnant, she's pregnant with twins. It's really panic time now. They get over it. Something else comes up. More panic. Etc., etc., etc.

That's enough of the plot. Quite frankly, it's a romantic comedy and anyone who has seen more than two examples of the genre will probably be able to guess the general story arc. Like I said, predictability is common in the genre and I'm not going to hold it against the movie. What I am going to hold against the movie is the lack of chemistry between the two leads. I never once believed their romance. Maybe that's because the film is written like a second-rate sitcom, the kind of sitcom that gives other sitcoms a bad name. It's always going for the easy laugh and no joke is too old to be repeated in this movie. (Did you know pregnant women having cravings for weird foods?) These are not real people we get to know and understand on some emotional level. They are simply caricatures who are there to float along with the plot, and deliver tired, cliché riddled jokes. There are entire scenes without a single joke that works. Worse yet, there are scenes without a single joke that's even recognizable as a joke.

The film is also hurt by a very, very weak start. The credits last about two minutes. We then see Zoe in the stirrups right away, the voiceover / flashbacks happen, and by the seven-minute mark, she's met Stan. Seven minutes into the movie, and we have all of the plot we are going to get. For the next 90 minutes they are just going through the paces.

Not everything is a write-off. Jennifer Lopez does have screen presence and in the right movie, she has what it takes to be a star. Of course, it has been a while since she's been in a movie like that. (I liked her in Shall We Dance?, but that came out more than five years ago.) She really needs to choose better roles than this.

The Extras

The DVD has just a handful of deleted scenes as a 12-minute making of featurette. This is a tiny amount for a first run release.

I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, but on it costs less than 20% more, so unless it actually has less special features, the Blu-ray is the better deal.

The Verdict

The Back-Up Plan is quite charmless. It constantly goes for the easy jokes and and much of the humor would be considered low-rent by network sitcom standards. Add in a DVD and Blu-ray that have nearly no extras, and it is not even worth the rental.

- Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review, The Back-up Plan