SECOND ACT – The New JLo Romcom

J Lo is back in da house. For some reason I just love this woman on screen. And don’t care what anyone says, THE CELL is a masterpiece!! But after my love for her I still couldn’t make the screening for SECOND ACT so Kernel John headed out to view it at Moonlight Cinema with big thanks to them for the invitation. SECOND ACT is out now from the fine folks at Roadshow. It is rated M and runs for 113mins. Enjoy John’s thoughts on the film. Happy popcorning……………Salty.

BY JOHN MCPARLAND

“Fake it ‘til you make it!” is an awesome little theory that I have dabbled in from time to time with absolutely no success whatsoever.  But then, I am not JLo.  You know who is JLo though?  Yup you guessed it, JLo is, and she makes the absolute best out of her faking it in her latest dramatic comedy SECOND ACT.

Second Act Jennifer Lopez and Milo Ventimiglia image
Jennifer Lopez and Milo Ventimiglia

SECOND ACT SYNOPSIS

The occupationally stymied Maya (Jennifer Lopez – THE BOY NEXT DOOR) is passed over for the store manager role at the grocery mart where she works.  Though praised and lauded by senior management for her accomplishments and skill, her lack of tertiary education is raised time and again as the limiting factor in her career progression.  Maya longs for a world where “street smarts equal book smarts” and proper recognition for her achievements.

Enter her best friend Joan’s (Leah Remini – KEVIN CAN WAIT television series) techy son, who ‘Cinderellas’ Maya with a fake resume that he then submits for various high powered positions.  After Maya gets called in for an interview with one of these firms, she speaks with Joan and soon learns of the ruse.  Despite initial reservations, Maya agrees to play along, desperate for the chance to prove herself.  But as the lies start to mount and the ghosts of her past come back to haunt her, how long can Maya continue the deception before being revealed?

Second Act Leah Remini, Ellen Cleghorne and Dierdre Friel image
Leah Remini, Ellen Cleghorne and Dierdre Friel

ACTING

The acting in SECOND ACT is fairly solid.  Lopez is the star of this film and does not fail to deliver.  A frustrated soul, her earnest struggles are real and felt by the viewer as she attempts to balance lies and truth in a world she is more than capable of holding her own in, just not on paper.  Remini is equally as enjoyable, channelling her decade of work on THE KING OF QUEENS to present a loveable, take-no-crap best friend, who does not want to see Maya lose her true identity amongst the facade.

Vanessa Hudgens’s (HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL) Zoe is a loveable character with a good deal of charm and sass as one the firm’s most senior managers, while Charlyne Yi’s Ariana provides a number of laughs as Maya’s bumbling intern.

Several other cast members help to round out the production, from friends to partners, bosses to assistants, all adding zest and drama to Maya’s life.

Second Act Jennifer Lopez and Vanessa Hudgens image
Jennifer Lopez and Vanessa Hudgens

WHEN TWO WORLDS COLLIDE

The title of SECOND ACT is telling in its content.  A ‘second act’ is defined as what an individual strives for later on in life, usually a second, wholly different career or endeavour undertaken after retirement or a change in circumstances.  And the film certainly begins down that path, plucking Maya from obscurity and placing her on the path of (falsified) greatness.  But all of a sudden, Maya and the audience are blindsided by an unbelievably improbable twist of fate that takes this movie from a ‘second act’ to a ‘second chance’ with audience interest split between these two stories.

Like a onetime matador, hanging up the swishy cape and pointy shoulder pads to become an astronaut instead.  We love this girl, going on missions, delivering speeches about steps and leaps and such, and generally reviving interest in the late great David Bowie and his “Space Oddity.”  Only to suddenly witness our fearless space cadet get trampled by a runaway bull, while on the International Space Station.  Like a farm had some sort of freak accident with one of their steers escaping, smuggling itself onto a shuttle and piloting it to the ISS, while fulfilling the prophecy laid out for it in nursery rhyme “Hey, Diddle, Diddle.”  We are so blindsided by how in the hell a cow managed to do up its space suit without opposable thumbs, that we are torn between the awkward mid movie bounce back to the astronaut’s earlier life and the new career she is trying to forge.  Similar sort of thing happens in this film, though perhaps not as fantastical.

THE DOWNSIDE:

This confuses SECOND ACT somewhat, as the film attempts to balance both these plot lines.  The build-up for the ‘villain’ (because someone always finds out about the lies in these sort of movies) is completely lost in the gear change, making previous parts of the film irrelevant, while the return to the past takes some of the shine off the initial offerings.

By the end, both of these stories reach an appreciable close, but one cannot help but feel that this is two different movies rolled into one.  Both movies would be great if explored on their own, though I do not believe that SECOND ACT does true justice to the potential it offers with these mixed tales.

Second Act Charlyne Yi, Alan Aisenberg, Jennifer Lopez and Annaleigh Ashford image
Charlyne Yi, Alan Aisenberg, Jennifer Lopez and Annaleigh Ashford

FINAL ACT

Overall, SECOND ACT really is a lovely, feel good movie, despite its mixed storyline.  It champions a strong female lead gleefully sticking it the patriarchy and the system, while showing lighter moments and emotional drives that further enhance this film’s character.  Friends, family, truth and lies all collide, with the overarching message being one of opportunity and redemption, if only one is willing to take the leap.

YOUR REVIEWER:

A lifelong lover of the silver screen, Kernel John strives to engage and entertain his audience through the shameless use of humour in his reviews, even when it probably isn’t warranted. When not musing for Salty, you can often find John bouncing between his extreme states of either puppy watching down by the beach, or reflecting on the deepest mysteries of the Universe.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.