It’s hard not to pre-judge a movie when its leading lady is no other than Jennifer Lopez and its sold as Maid in Manhattan for a new generation. Well, to a certain extent you would be right, but comedy director, Peter Segal has taken the influences of Working Girl and Baby Boom and turned this into an effervescent ‘girl done well’ formulaic story with a handful of girl power.
Lopez plays Maya, just turned 43 and stuck in an assistant manager’s job at a local store for the past 6 years, its a job she can do standing on her head. Though when it comes to that promotion she is passed over by a younger corporate man who is in no way as qualified as her to do the job, just because she never went to that Ivy-league college, oh and did we mention – she was a woman!
Frustrated at being passed over yet again, May turns to best friend Joan (Leah Remini) for a much-needed pick-me-up. Overhearing the conversation, Joan’s son reinvents Maya’s resume and online persona which instantly lands her a high-powered position at a corporate skin care company. In need of a voice that represents the woman on the street, The CEO creates two teams to compete against each other to create an organic product that actually works for the everyday woman.
Despite its paint by numbers script, screenwriter’s Justin Zackham and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas – who, coincidental, wrote that other Lopez picture, Maid in Manhattan – have done a decent enough job of injecting some of the new millennia into the storyline. Instead of pitting women against each with handbags at dawn standoffs, we finally have a modern twist in which the women of this film all stand in solidarity, with a minor hiccup which straightens itself out in a flash. Also, refreshingly for the genre, there are no men in white shining armour to come and save the day only for the leading lady to fall head over heels in love with her rescuer.
Those days are long gone for Lopez to keep tying herself into those roles were she painstaking tries to convince us she’s just ‘Jenny from the block’. Maya is the same old character we have seen before in her roles, a passive, likeable woman who sees the best in everyone. Even when she goes up against the CEO’s prickly daughter Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens) a sickly sweet twist turns the tides dropping any animosity between them.
Segal’s vision is not a ground breaker, but its humour is on point enough to make this a fun, popcorn no brainer. Lopez takes most of the screen time but it’s worth watching out for her vertigo suffering sidekick (Charlyne Yi) to add some much needed relief from the Lopez ism’s, that’s not to say for all its charms and geniality it missed that Latino feistiness and lost itself on the point it was trying to make.
Second Act is in UK Cinemas January 25th