Second Act

A cinematic meltdown

By Bradley Lane

As a reviewer, I feel it my responsibility to review films I am interested in to recommend the best possible movies I can, however, I want to broaden my horizons. If I only review the films that personally interest me, I will inevitably miss some diamonds in the rough I otherwise would not check out. So, I put myself out of my comfort zone to review the new Jennifer Lopez movie, Second Act, helmed by Tommy Boy director, Peter Segal.

Second Act follows J.Lo’s character, Maya Vargas, after she gets passed up for a management position at her big box retail store where she has been working for the past 15 years. It becomes clear she has the proper skill set however she was not able to get a college degree, trapping her into her assistant manager role at the store. In a twist of fate and efforts by her friends she ends up interviewing for a high position role at a massive cosmetics company. After getting the job the film pivots to explore her personal and professional challenges in her new job.

This film is terrible. The plot does not lend itself well to comedy, as the situations the film puts together to test her fake accomplished persona are played out and tired. Second Act also constantly switches from serious drama to its comedic moments so clumsily it is embarrassing. The direction is competent but bland and almost painfully boring. As for the performances Lopez pulls her own but is clearly not being surrounded by Hollywood’s top actors. The cast is instantly forgettable, and their performances are stunted by horrible writing.

There is a lot wrong with this film, but nothing is as bad as the writing. The dialogue in this movie sounds like it was written by someone who has never actually talked to another person, but rather has only ever seen dialogue portrayed in movies. Characters in the film do not exist as people with motivations and feelings, but rather as tools to further the plot or clumsily deliver awkward exposition to the audience. Character actions go directly against what little character motivations we can glean from the script. Not only that but our protagonist is supposed to be smart and clever, but never gets to show her abilities besides through expositional dialogue. Maya Vargas does not “do” anything in this film; for the most part things just happen around her and we get to see her reactions. Everyone else propels the plot forward while she just straps in for the ride.

If you want to go see a movie this Christmas there are plenty of great films in theaters right now but, I highly recommend you stay far away from Second Act.  1/5 Stars.