The Back-Up Plan Director: Alan Poul Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Alex O'Loughlin, Michaela Watkins, Melissa McCarthy The course of true love is complicated for the Greenwich Village pet shop owner Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) when she meets Mr Right (Alex O'Loughlin) within minutes of receiving artificial insemination - successfully, as fate would have it. There follows a chick flick dilemma. How do you break it to your date that you're going to be a mummy soon? Zoe isn't sure, but Stan is so cute she's prepared to prevaricate. Romantic comedies generally work best when the sexes -and the stars - are evenly matched: think Tracy and Hepburn. Recently, though, Hollywood has been tilting one way or the other. In Judd Apatow comedies, the guys invariably get the last word. In The Back-Up Plan, JLo enjoys the lion's share of the screen time and the gags, while the Aussie newcomer O'Loughlin is stuck with the thankless task of portraying the perfect guy (an organic cheesemaker, no less). While the early courtship scenes have a hint of screwball vim, the movie goes flat once the truth comes out. The couple's anxiety issues simply aren't very amusing, and running gags about a single mum's birth support group feel awfully stale. If The Back-Up Plan isn't a complete dud it's courtesy of Lopez. This is her first movie in four years (while she got married and had twins) and she looks great, very relaxed, and happy to poke fun at the whole messy business of impending motherhood. Your enjoyment will probably depend on the extent to which you can relate.
* Tom Charity