It’s Second Best

Johnson Thomas

A passable though unexciting comedy, this Jennifer Lopez vehicle has little to recommend it - other than the boundless charms of its lead actor/producer. Second Act is a messily written mishmash of ‘romcom’ ideas mixed up with Working Girl heaviness that doesn’t quite bring on the much desired levity.

The street-smart 40 plus, Maya (Lopez) has been working for 12 years at a big box store and is hoping for a promotion. But the executive job goes to the guy with an MBA. So, when her teenage godson creates an online persona for her that leads to a job offer from one of the store’s biggest suppliers, she is game for a second act. And her wish-list comes true too. She gets to prove her credentials but her one big lie rattles her conscience and eventually when the time is ripe she confesses. But it’s not that easy to make amends…or is it?

The peculiar thing here is that Maya’s street-smarts just about disappears when she gets her most challenging task at her new job. The few funny moments come from Maya’s former colleague Leah Remini, her current assistant Charlyne Yi and Annaleigh Ashford as Hildy. The film tries to posit street smarts against education but doesn’t manage to make a strong case for either. And corporate politics are so done to death that they seem childish. This film basically has far too many subplots and very little power or cohesion to make it fire on all cylinders.

The mother-daughter angle is not in the least bit convincing either. Vanessa Hudgens as the daughter given up for adoption doesn’t quite fit the look. In fact, her looks make her more suitable to be cast as Sofia Vergara’s daughter. So, the question begs to be asked. Did Lopez sneak in to this project from the backdoor? Unfortunately, there’s really no reason to care!