Remember “Gigli?” Yeah, that bad…

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Looking for a guy fainting in a gynecologist’s office?

How about a gross-out birthing scene?

A single woman with daddy issues?

If your ideal movie is one filled with tired clichés and stereotypes, “The Back-Up Plan” is for you.

A star vehicle for Jennifer Lopez, “The Back-Up Plan” is not offensive, boundary pushing or even entertainingly bad.

It’s just plain boring.

Lopez plays Zoe, a single woman who has given up her dream of finding a man, but not her dream of having babies.

The movie opens with Zoe being artificially inseminated, a decision that director Alan Poul seems to believe is still socially taboo, though it is not.

Straight out of the doctor’s office, Zoe meets cute Stan (Alex O’Loughlin) and the rest, as they say, is history.

There are a few contrived setbacks for the new couple, including one that simultaneously disparages single, forty–something mothers and adult students.

But anyone who has seen the television promos for this movie knows that Zoe and Stan are going to end up together forever.

Recently Hollywood seems to have decided that female audiences only want to see wedding or pregnancy comedies. Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up” started the trend and was promptly followed by the Tina Fey vehicle “Baby Mama.”

The difference between these two very good movies and “The Back-Up Plan” is that both “Knocked Up” and “Baby Mama” showed respect for their female protagonists.

Instead, “The Back-Up Plan”   forces Lopez to endure one humiliating cliché after another.

These include, but are unfortunately not limited to: obscenely stuffing stew into her mouth, trying to force sex while gorging on McDonald’s (pregnant women eat a lot!) and falling into a blow-up pool of excrement.

It’s a shame, because Lopez does occasionally show hints of real screen presence.

It isn’t so much her acting as the screenwriting that kills the movie.

Zoe is supposed to be a strong, independent single woman, but we get to know her character only after she is safely settled in her relationship with Stan.

Whatever the screenwriter Kate Angelo wants the audience to believe about her character, it is abundantly clear that what Zoe really needs to lead a fulfilling life is a strong, hunky man.

As said hunky man, O’Loughlin is not required to do much other than frown worriedly and stand around sans T–shirt.

The one mildly unexpected twist is that Stan immediately decides to support and stay with Zoe.

That a young, attractive man is willing to stick around and raise children who are not his own shows a potential turn–around from the Hollywood man–child that the aforementioned Apatow and his cohorts popularized.

Stan is not afflicted with arrested development; with his goat cheese business and interest in sustainable agriculture, he is a venerable Renaissance man.

“The Back–Up Plan” will probably bring in decent box office numbers, despite its predictable premise and bland plot twists.

Maybe some day a legitimately entertaining, thought–provoking romantic comedy will be released in the U.S.

Until that day comes, save yourself two hours and skip this forgettable movie.


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