The Back-up Plan
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Back-up Plan is a romantic comedy that deals frankly with sex and pregnancy, even though it contains very little actual nudity and the story itself is fairly chaste. There is one notable scene of a natural birth in which a naked, pregnant woman squats in an inflatable swimming pool; in one brief shot (played for comedy), her entire body is visible through the water. The movie also contains strong language, including one "f--k" and at least half-a-dozen uses of "s--t." Ultimately, the gruesome details of childbirth and looming parenthood may be unappealing and perhaps even terrifying to teens, but some parents may find something to laugh about.
What's the story?
New York pet store owner Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) wants to have a baby but can't find "Mr. Right." Worried that time is passing her by, she goes to her back-up plan: artificial insemination. Later that same day, she meets Stan (Alex O'Loughlin), a cheese maker, who turns out to be "the one." By the time Zoe discovers she's pregnant and Stan hears the news, they are already in love. Stan must learn to deal with the shock of suddenly becoming a father, while Zoe must learn to trust that Stan isn't going to run away.
Is it any good?
Directed by Alan Poul, a TV veteran making his feature debut, THE BACK-UP PLAN drags out every lazy romantic comedy cliché in the book. The lovers withhold information from each other, and then get mad and run away when the truth comes out. (In one scene, the heroine tells the truth out loud, but a cut reveals that she's only speaking to herself in a mirror.) The characters are paper-thin and their journey together is entirely routine and totally predictable.
But the movie also has the unfortunate side effect of making both pregnancy and impending parenthood look unappealing and even terrifying. For a movie with such a chaste setup, it has a very oddly cynical view of such things, not to mention a large collection of foul language. Teens are unlikely to find much appeal in the storyline, though there's enough juvenile humor to mildly entertain those who dare. Parents are more likely to find some laughs peppered throughout the otherwise tired routine. If this was the "back up," the filmmakers probably should have stuck to the original plan.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays pregnancy. Teens: What opinions did this movie leave you with about pregnancy and parenthood? Was this a realistic scenario?
Do you think this movie reinforces or challenges any stereotypes about male-female relationships? How do romantic comedies, in general, portray intimate relationships?
Teens: Could you relate to any of the experiences or ideas about taking care of kids that came up in the movie? How did this movie portray kids and the practice of caring for them?