The idea that a Jennifer Lopez dramedy in the vein of Maid In Manhattan could be
considered a "throwback" is surely an unnerving one for some, and yet with the aptly
titled Second Act, we have exactly that.
Having the appearance of a relic of a bygone era and somehow feeling all the more refreshing for that reason, the film tackles issues of class and wage inequality in America in a way that uses echoes of the past to seem surprisingly timely.
Lopez stars as Maya, an incredibly bright woman stranded in a low-wage supermarket job due to circumstances that prohibited her from getting a college degree. After a friend doctors her CV with more desirable work experience, Maya lands a high-paying job at a makeup company - and has to keep up the ruse even when elements of her personal and professional lives start to clash.
The film, right down to its set-up and execution, has that classic Working Girl energy, as Lopez is allowed to really dig into the role of a layered and complex woman unashamed of her ambition and desire to succeed.
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She's fantastic here, and it's a real joy to remember what a charismatic presence she can be on the big screen.
The film runs into some stumbling blocks when it takes a turn for the soapy, the focus on the compelling narrative of a Latina woman struggling in a workforce geared to discriminate occasionally ceding ground to an adoption story which, while often moving, feels of an era even older than the one Second Act is clearly indebted to.
By-and-large, the film goes exactly where you'll expect it to go from start to finish, but is
propelled by the strength of the characters and some wonderfully deft screenwriting (it
also features the most laugh-out-loud one-liner of 2018 following a
rowing tournament gone awry).
This isn't a film that has set out to re-invent the wheel and yet works, by virtue of good screenwriting principles. I was taken by how few of these kinds of films we get these days, and how satisfying they can be when done right.
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini
Director: Peter Segal
Running Time: 104 mins
Rating: M (Offensive language and sexual references)
Verdict: An agreeably old-school vibe helps Lopez get her groove back.