Do you hate cheesy chick flicks? Well I can save you some time right now and tell you that this is NOT the movie for you. If you don’t absolutely love the awesome terribleness of your stock-standard chick flick, then there is nothing redeemable I can tell you about Second Act. However, if Maid in Manhatten-esque movies are your bread and butter, then please stay tuned!
The rom-com queen herself, Jennifer Lopez, is 40-year-old Maya. An innovative and incredibly motivated woman stuck in a grocery store job with managers who won’t promote her (no matter how incredible she is at her job) because she never got a degree. After seeing how gutted she is about the whole situation, her best friend’s teenage son creates a fake CV for her along with a very impressive and entirely made up social media presence. She very quickly lands an interview with a large beauty and skincare company for an extremely well paid consultancy position. After impressing the company with her knowledge and insights into their brand, she lands the job of her dreams. Quickly finding herself in an intense competition to prove herself to her fellow colleagues, Maya struggles to keep her secret as her personal and professional lives become more intertwined.
First up – the romance. I am generally on board with anything involving Milo Ventimiglia. LET ME TELL YOU. But somehow, even with all the smokin’ hot peeps (Milo and J Lo), there was absolutely no sizzle. Jennifer just feels like his Mum. Like…it was kind of a relief when they weren’t touching each other. You, however, might enjoy it? No judgement. That aside… Second Act is more about the com than the rom, so don’t give up hope just yet!
The comedy was actually decent! Bar a few absolutely cringe-worthy lines and acting (I’m looking at you Charlyne Yi and Alan Aisenberg), there were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and perfectly timed one-liners. Jennifer Lopez is in her element. She (perhaps unsurprisingly) carries the whole movie almost effortlessly. Turns out I’m a bit of a J Lo fan-girl! Treat Williams is Anderson Clarke, the big boss at Maya’s new company and the father of her fiercest rival. He’s pretty perfect for the role and delivers the most hilarious line in the whole film. Vanessa Hudgens is as expected – fairly ‘meh’. Her role is painfully predictable and the way her character’s issues are tackled and resolved feels very shallow and forced. Maya’s best friend, Joan (Leah Remini), feels like a weaker version of Carla in Bad Moms. She’s still decently funny though and the relationship between her and Maya feels real – which is especially apparent in some of the more confrontational moments.
As someone who never completed a degree, I was especially interested to see how a film about street-smarts vs book-smarts would play out. Unfortunately the story lost its way, and what had a strong premise to begin with, ended up a diluted pool of mixed messages. Maya is set up to seem like a pretty inspirational character, and she is, but she’s still very flawed (bordering on annoyingly stupid) and it sets up some interesting conflicts and conversations throughout the film. So even though Second Act probably tackles too many ideas all at once and doesn’t really do any of them very well… If you’re in need of a good old J Lo fix – then Second Act is a must see!