J-Lo’s second act: because sometimes it’s hard to be a woman, but presumably not quite so hard if you’re this particular theatrical icon approaching 50. 

The message from every J-Lo movie seems to be exactly the same:

“I’m still jenny from the block.

I haven’t changed one single bit!”

That desperate plea for the credentials of authenticity and the ever present image of the underdog David figure to the world’s Goliath is getting tiresome, particularly as the actress has reached such a significant level of fame and notoriety.

This is JLO at 50 and there is an aspect of a midlife crisis feel to the Second Act. It sees Jennifer Lopez playing quite a similar role to Maid in the Manhattan: once again the outsider; underprivileged, under appreciated and desperate to achieve and become recognised and valued by the insiders.

Before you feel that I am too dismissive of JLO, I did love Maid In Manhattan, which has a similar theme and leaves you with a warm glow inside. The pixie dust doesn’t work quite as well with Second Act, perhaps weakened with overuse.

I would not be surprised if this was a 2020 campaign film for Jennifer Lopez.  Many Hollywood actresses appear to be queueing up in the wings, hopeful that the present incumbent president will be so weak in two years time, that fame and household name status alone will be enough to take the highest office in the modern world. This film certainly ticks all of the boxes in terms of social justice and perhaps goes a little bit too far in it’s old fashioned, and patronizing approach to women.

Almost every man in the second act is an ignorant dickhead.

Lopez‘s boss is a man and he is a dickhead.

His boss is also a man and he is patronising and an ignorant sexist pig.

Lopez strikes one for the sisters however by denying that her boss is the best man for the new job; by insisting that she is.

I can only guess that modern women will find all of this patronising, one dimensional and reductive.

She is of course a wizard at marketing; but naturally completely under appreciated, and undervalued.

Because men.

The question is : despite all of these unfair barriers, will she get the break that she so desperately deserves?

In the meantime, her character rails against successful people, particularly fancy people in their fancy big houses who have college degrees.

You really have to wonder what message Jennifer Lopez is sending to that kid that is in currently in the block that she is so keen for us to know from whence she came. Don’t go to college? – because that’s useless? Men are evil sexist pigs that will be a barrier to your success?

And no matter how successful you get, you must still live in the gutter psychologically, unable to appreciate that perhaps you have become something new.

The second that might be enjoyable for a group of people on a night out looking for an entertaining film, as long as the heavy sledgehammer messages don’t get in the way of the enjoyment.

Having said all of the above, I still Love Jenny. I really do. I just wish she would love her present self a bit more.

Not the Jenny from the Block, who no longer exists, and is in the past. How about celebrating the Jenny from the here and now: fabulous at 50, successful and inspiring without having to labour on the obstacles overcome. Perhaps we will see that film someday.

  • Director:  Peter Segal
  • Written by:  Justin Zackham, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas
  • Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Vanessa Hudgens, Leah Remini
  • Rated PG-13
  • Running Time:  1 hours and 43 minutes
  • Budget: $16,000,000 est.
  • Release Date: December 2018

Review by Fergus Keane  one of the presenters of No-Budget.