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J.Lo's 'Back-up Plan' is hard to stomach

'The Back-up Plan" may be the year's first artificial insemination comedy, but it won't be the last: In July, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore will play a couple whose kids came from a donor (Mark Ruffalo), and in August, Jennifer Aniston will head into the delivery room in "The Switch."

It's possible this mini-trend is driven by cultural shifts in our society: increasing options for women, changing definitions of family, a generational tendency to marry and breed late. But "The Back-up Plan," starring Jennifer Lopez as Zoe, a Manhattan pet-store owner who meets cutie-pie Stan (Alex O'Loughlin, of CBS' "Moonlight") the very day she was impregnated, couldn't care less about new ideas. It's still dreaming about diamond rings, candlelit dinners and breathy pop-songs.

The movie is modern in one sense: It's crass. In an effort to keep pace with comedies like "Knocked Up," writer Kate Angelo throws in jokes about cervices and mid-labor bowel movements. There is much vomit, not all of it human.

The film's central romance is also hard to stomach. Zoe feels generic, like the lost fifth friend from "Sex and the City," while Stan (a hip dairy farmer, very slow-food) comes off as arrogant and grating. Only the bit players (Michaela Watkins as an exhausted mommy, the wonderful Linda Lavin as Zoe's grandmother) seem genuine.

For a movie about single motherhood, "The Back-up Plan" quite clearly disapproves. Zoe's support group consists entirely of homely hippies, lonely fatties and butchy types, all mocked as social outcasts. Zoe narrowly avoids their fate, of course. The message to single moms couldn't be clearer.

Back story: Life begins at 40 for Jennifer Lopez

 'The Back-up Plan" marks Jennifer Lopez's first film since turning 40 last July.

"It is a great time to be an actress," Lopez said at a recent convention of theater owners in Las Vegas. "It seems like you can work and do anything at any age. . . . It's a great time that people are just seeing people's souls.

"It's not so superficial anymore," the actress continued. "Women have proven that they are viable in this business, as well, and it doesn't matter if you're not 21 years old. It just matters that you're great at what you do. And that's exciting."

"The Back-up Plan" works through a variety of pregnancy issues - now familiar turf for Lopez, who gave birth to fraternal twins, Emme and Maximilian, in February 2008.

One thing in the film she couldn't relate to: the last act's big water-birthing sequence.

"No!" Lopez said with a laugh. "I didn't have any water birth. I was in a hospital. It was a much more controlled atmosphere: no singing, no drums. But there was a little bit of music. But other than that, no similarities."

- Associated Press

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