Every holiday season has to have at least one comedy you can take mom, to, right?
So be grateful “Second Act” doesn’t have Streisand and Rogen.
Seems like every start up studio takes a look at the bare cupboard and some suit says “Let’s get J. Lo!”
A few years back, it was CBS Films that tried to revive her big screen fortunes. At least in “Second Act,” STX showcases her in a much more likable role, even if the movie around her is patchwork and somewhat lifeless.
When the screenwriters are stealing from “Working Girl,” they’re on sure ground. When they wring emotions out of mothers and daughters, they get the desired reaction — they know about the whole “Take Mom to movie for Christmas” thing , too. But the movie goes from generally stiff to genuinely losing its way when they do. Schmaltz.
We meet Maya the day she doesn’t get the big promotion at Value Shop, a supermarket chain she has put the best 15 years of her life into.
The dopey mogul (Larry Miller) who runs it throws that “minimum job requirements” thing at her, and gives the gig to an idiot MBA from Duke.
It’s not just their basketball team that we hate.
Maya (Jennifer Lopez) is sharp, hands-on, and left in the lurch. “I just wish we lived in a world where street smarts equaled book smarts.”
But her 40th birthday gives her one special gift. The Stanford tech nerd son of her BFF (Leah Remini) polished her resume. Inflated it. Build an entire alternate identity, with Harvard, Wharton and the Peace Corps in it. And next thing you know, the chief (Treat Williams) of the conglomerate that supplies Value Shop is head hunting her, bringing her in as a consultant.
She’ll compete with his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens, also quite likable) to see who can revamp their mass production skin care products line in a more popular and profitable direction.
But the boss’s daughter and his new hire bond, and who knows where that’ll lead?
The few times the movie perks to life — Maya misusing her office nemesis (Freddie Stroma) on the dance floor, a little “Push it REAL good” dancing sing along with her girls (Remini, Lacreta, Dierdre Friel) — just remind us how dead everything around those moments is.
Funnymen Miller and Dave Foley (as a company chemist) are wasted in bit parts, but Charlyne Yi scores as an off-the-wall, heights-fearing assistant.
I didn’t hate this, which is faint praise, I know. The kids cussing for laughs add nothing, and the dress-up nature of the lead roles (the cinematographer and costume designer LOVE Lopez and Hudgens, who have never looked better) are low-hanging fruit in the Xmas-movie-for-moms department.
I wasn’t nuts about “Second Act,” and I’m guessing you won’t be either. But your Mom? She’ll find something nice to say about it, even Leah Remini’s Old West streetwalker face paint.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some crude sexual references, and language
Cast” Jennifer Lopez, Vanessa Hudgens, Treat Williams, Leah Remini, Milo Ventimiglia, Charlyne Yi
Credits: Directed by Peter Segal, script by Justin Zackham, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas. An STX release.
Running time: 1:43