The Back-up Plan

  • Review Date: April 13, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

Common Sense Media says

J.Lo romcom bursts with frank pregnancy, sex talk.
  • Review Date: April 13, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 104 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's ultimate point is that couples should learn to communicate
and trust one another before jumping to conclusions and assuming
anything. The lead characters must overcome many obstacles -- often
related to the complexity of having children -- before they achieve
this. Unfortunately, the movie can also be somewhat cynical and has the
side effect of making childbirth and parenthood look unappealing.

Positive role models

The characters in the movie are fairly flimsy, with narrow behavior
patterns. Stan is annoying, but once he decides to stay with the
pregnant Zoe, he sticks to his guns throughout, no matter how tough it
gets for him.


There are some arguments and some shouting, and a few moments of
slapstick, but nothing major.


There is very frank talk about sex and pregnancy, including the names of
body parts and some unfortunate little details (such as uncontrollable
bowel movements during a birth). The main character, Zoe, is
artificially inseminated through a sperm donor, and we see and hear
about this process. There's a scene of a natural birth (played for
laughs) that includes a shot of a pregnant woman squatting naked in an
inflatable pool; everything is visible through the water. Otherwise, the
main couple (Zoe and Stan) flirts, kisses, and has sex, though nothing
is shown. Zoe has a noisy orgasm, and Stan appears shirtless in one
scene. In another scene, Zoe checks out her pregnant body in the mirror,
but ducks out of sight a second later.


We hear strong, but not constant language, including one "f---k" and at
least half-a-dozen uses of "s--t." Also in earshot: "Oh my God," "Jesus" (as an exclamation), "vagina,"
"pee," "sperm," "ass," "stupid," "penis," "damn," "hell," "bitch,"


The couple likes to eat at Gray's Papaya, a real hot dog restaurant in
New York. But otherwise, not an issue.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Zoe and Stan drink some wine during a date. Zoe's best friend Mona
guzzles a glass of champagne in one scene, for comic effect. No one gets
drunk. Zoe does not drink while pregnant.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

New York pet store owner Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) wants to have a

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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 23, 2010
DVD release date:August 24, 2010
Cast:Alex O'Loughlin, Jennifer Lopez, Linda Lavin
Director:Alan Poul
Studio:CBS Films
Run time:104 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual content including references, some crude material and language

This review of The Back-up Plan was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byanna1999 July 17, 2012

cute movie intended for older people

Movie was intended for older kids obviously, cute though. I saw this at my friends house. We had no idea what we were watching- just randomly played what was in the DVD player. Some scenes were not intended for us to watch but it really was nothing we hadn't seen in other movies. Cute though, good message in the end where the main character comes clean to her boyfriend and tells him the truth.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bykeeyan January 31, 2012

i bet it will suck

i have not seen the back up plan
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byoceansapphire December 26, 2011


I absolutely adore this movie! Best messages ever: Family is a family no matter if you are biologically related or not, it recognizes sperm donors, you can love anyone no matter what they look like, and so much more! I love this movie. It's heartfelt, funny, romantic and cute! J-Lo is even a better actress than she is a singer! LOVE IT. ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. Cast & crew did an AMAZING job!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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