Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez did not made any movies for the past couple of years while she took time out for the birth of her twins. Now she's back on screen with a romantic comedy about a mother-to-be pregnant with twins. The film, "The Back-Up Plan," is about love and parenthood (not necessarily in that order) and also features Alex O'Loughlin.
New Yorker Zoe is successful in business running her thriving pet store. She also has good friends and a loving extended family; but she has not had the best of luck in the romance department and, with her biological clock ticking away, she has decided the "right guy" may never show up. So "The Back-Up Plan" is to become a single mother with the help of modern science. Naturally, the very day she undergoes the in-vitro fertilization procedure, she meets the "right guy."
His name is Stan and he, too, is a successful entrepreneur: a farmer who makes cheese that he sells at farmer's markets around New York. At about the same time she realizes she is pregnant with twins, Zoe also figures out that she's falling in love with Stan. Will he be scared away by the impending parenthood if she tells him? How long can she keep it a secret, anyway?
Jennifer Lopez gave birth to twins a couple of years ago and drew on her own experiences to play Zoe.
"So many of the things in this movie were art imitating life for me," she said. "Because I had just gone through the pregnancy it was really fresh in my mind. We used a lot of the stuff from real life."
That insight into the funnier side of pregnancy includes the sudden and insatiable hunger that, in the film, strikes Zoe when she spies a pot of stew bubbling on the stove in Stan's kitchen. With no utensils in sight, she resorts to scooping it up (and scarfing it down) directly from the pot with hunks of bread.
"You feel so hungry, it's crazy; and you feel so sleepy in a way that you never have before," Lopez said. "Because I had just gone through it, I knew how that was going to ring true for so many women."
The pregnancy humor may be drawn from real life, but the romantic storyline is pure Hollywood. For instance, Stan is shirtless and ripples with muscles as he tends the goats on his dairy farm. As the love interest, Alex O'Loughlin joins a growing legion of hunky stars from Australia making it big on American screens.
"Look, I don't know mate ?maybe it's something in the water back home; but I did get kind of fit for the film because every cheese farmer is ripped and buff ?and I wanted to be true to character because I'm [a] 'method' [actor]," he said.
"The Back-Up Plan" marks the feature film directing debut of Alan Poul, an award-winning television producer and director on shows including "Six Feet Under," "Rome" and "Big Love." Poul says his challenge was to balance the expectations audiences have for this genre.
"Because it is a romantic comedy and you know how it is going to end up, on a certain level the story has to be predictable because you know they are going to end up together," he said. "So it is within that general framework of a romantic comedy that is going to end happily, we create the little moments that catch people by surprise."
"The movie manages to stay squarely in the realm of the contemporary romantic comedy, meaning that it pushes the boundaries of taste sometimes," Poul said. "There are a few elements of crudity in the humor; but it also had a beautiful, classic romantic comedy shape. It was really about these two people would ordinarily never come together who get thrown together and have to navigate how to be together. That's really the classic American screwball romantic comedy formula [and] I was trying to find the middle path where people who understand classic romantic comedy would really respond to it, but it would appear fresh and new enough to appeal to a younger audience."
"The Back-Up Plan" also features Anthony Anderson as a young father who encourages the frightened Stan to stay with pregnant Zoe. Comedian and actor Robert Klein plays Zoe's doctor and Linda Lavin, a stage and screen veteran, is her beloved (and supportive) grandma, who is also finding love in the story in the character played by another screen veteran: Tom Bosley.