Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin, Michaela Watkins
Directed by: Alan Poul (debut)
Written by: Kate Angelo (debut)

If romantic comedies starring Jennifer Lopez are movies you actually find amusing (“The Wedding Planner,” “Maid in Manhattan,” “Monster-in-Law”), then you’re probably programmed to eat up something as frothy as “The Back-Up Plan.” For those with a more discriminating taste, J-Lo’s latest only proves one thing: Lopez can definitely command a screen, but without any back-up from anyone in production, all that’s left is a predictable, poorly-written rom com with zero chemistry between the leads.

In the film, Lopez plays Zoe, a New York City pet store owner who wants nothing more than to have a baby. Single – and without any real suitors – Zoe decides the best way to get pregnant is to go through artificial insemination and raise a baby on her own. What would a cheesy mainstream romantic comedy be, however, if that’s all “The Back-Up Plan” intended to serve up?

The eye-rolling twist comes early when Zoe meets Stan (Alex O’Loughlin), the man of her dreams, on the same day she goes in for the medical procedure. The rest of the film is a cake walk. Zoe and Stan start their courtship and fall in love in standard two-day movie time when Stan invites to spend some time with him at his goat farm. Yes, his goat farm. Soon, Zoe must fess up and tell Stan that she’s has some baggage in the form of a bun in the oven. Will the news send Stan racing for the exit or is he in the relationship for the long haul?

Riddled with dreadfully cliché dialogue and some pregnancy jokes that are simply unfunny (Jo-Lo falls into a wading pool right after a woman has a water birth), “The Back-Up Plan” is an unrealistic look at love, the miracle of birth, or any of the other topics first-time screenwriter Kate Angelo lazily tries to pass off as entertainment.

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