Jennifer Lopez Shines in the Romance Comedy “Second Act”

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B-

Jennifer Lopez stars in and produces “Second Act,” an office comedy that also features the issues she has with her romantic partner, and also the strong bond she has with her close friends. The screenplay written by Justin Zackham (“The Big Wedding,” “The Bucket List”) and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas (making her debut as a writer with this film) have created an entertaining, though slightly predictable story. From reading the simple synopsis that markets it as “an inspirational comedy,” I was not anticipating the additional story lines about her past and current romantic life to play such a big part of the film. For this, I do think the writers did a good job of weaving them together in a not so obvious way initially. The screenplay also does excel in writing scenes to fit the talent that Lopez is capable of, from the serious to the comedic. The scene in the store where she quits and then trips on her exit is pretty standard in many other comedies and I did not find it necessary. I will try to say this without too many spoilers, but two things I do not like about the script is the resume that was created and then having the protagonist take action for employment with it. At first, this story seems to say it is acceptable to “fake your way in” or to not be honest about things. Ultimately though, the story does turn around to show how the dishonesty does have consequences, in both the personal and professional life of the character. To be fair to the story, the protagonist has had work opportunities pass her by because of a certain requirement, despite the knowledge and talent she has acquired during the course of her career. “Second Act” is about how this character decides to not be overlooked again and take advantage of an opportunity – even if it is not how she imagined it takes to get her foot inside the door.

Lopez gives a very good performance in “Second Act” where through humor, we note some of the varied characters show that there is a clear distinction of class, who is allowed in, or not. Once Maya (Lopez) does have the interview with the head of the F&C Corporation, Anderson Clarke (Treat Williams, “Chicago Fire,” “Blood Bloods”), and becomes a consultant, she also discovers much more about others with degrees and their privileged behavior. She is tasked with a challenge and it is up to her to meet and exceed expectations in order to be a part of the “members only” club in place.

Director Peter Segal (“Get Smart,” “Fifty First Dates”) has an array of diverse actors, age and otherwise, to work with and gleans top notch performances from several. It is good to see Treat Williams in a comedy again after many serious roles and he slides right in as the widowed businessman. Maya’s best and closest friend from their neighborhood, Joan (Leah Remini, “The King of Queens,” “Kevin Can Wait” TV series) has some of the best comedic lines and sharp delivery that lifts the film a notch. It is good to see her star in a film, aside from the various television series she is known for. Alongside Joan, a mother of two, her elementary age child, Otto (John James Cronin, “Diabolical” TV Series), certainly has a talent for repeating or shouting out “non-acceptable” words, especially four-letter ones. Charlyne Yi (“The Disaster Artist”) is an excellent comedian as an executive assistant and Vanessa Hudgens (“Dog Days”) plays a superb Zoe, daughter to the boss who blossoms and grows as she works alongside Maya.

Maya is a superstore manager in Queens who really wants to move up in her career. She is not ready to marry her long time love, Trey (Milo Ventimiglia), who very much wants children. Joan’s son is her godson and he quietly decides to help her be more visible in the job market. Unfortunately, it is very fake information that Maya does not approve of, but the information on the web catches the eye of the head of a women’s high-end cosmetics company. Her gal pals convince her to proceed with visiting the gentleman caller who in turn gives her an interview, leading her to pretend to be things she is not even aware are on the resume. Anderson Clarke (Williams) has her work with a young, vibrant employee, Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens). The task at hand is to work on a skin-care product that is profitable and each works in a team.

Among other cast members are: Annaleigh Ashford, Dan Bucatinsky, Freddie Stroma, Larry Miller and Dave Foley.

“Second Act” has the standard comedy scenes and yet there are some real zingers from the cast delivering some great lines. Even though not every single scene will hit the comedic mark or be the most original, the film will be entertaining enough for fans of romance comedies during a matinee or as a break from a loud and/or action packed movie. The film has an MPAA PG-13 rating and the running time is 104 minutes. In theaters December 21, 2018.

Source: STX Films

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