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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
Violence & Scariness
There are some arguments and some shouting, and a few moments of slapstick, but nothing major.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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," "douchebag."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate