Film: Second Act
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Vanessa Hudgens, Treat Williams, Leah Remini, Charlyne Yi, Milo Ventimiglia, Dalton Harrod, Annaleigh Ashford
Director: Peter Segal
Rating: * * *
In one of life’s not-so-little ironies, Maya (Jennifer Lopez) a 40-plus discount-store employee who insists, “street-smart should be the equivalent of book smart” finds herself pretending to be highly qualified achiever (Harvard! Peace Corps volunteer!) to land a dream job at a mega cosmetics firm headed by Anderson (Treat Williams) and his only daughter Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens).
Second Act is the director Peter (50 First Dates) Segal’s version of a fairy-tale which does, in the end, suggest experience from the bottom up is as good as a business school education. In fact, the latter even gets a drubbing of sorts in the scene where Maya quits her job when she’s passed over for a promotion in favour of an MBA.) That said, let me add it’s a mystery (to me at least) why make-up artists in far too many Hollywood flicks ‘make-down’ the women characters with an excess of pancake, lipstick the works.
The result is off-putting as in this comedy where someone as beautiful as Vanessa Hudgens is slathered with layers of you-know-what which does nothing for her natural good looks. Thank goodness for small mercies Lopez didn’t suffer the same indignity though her wardrobe changes for the better costume designer (courtesy costume designer Patricia Field) and her tousled hair acquires as sleek a look as the fab apartment she moves into.
Not to speak of getting an expense account! Wow oh wow!! What one likes even more is the premium placed by screenwriters Justin Zackham and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas on loyalty, perseverance, female friendship, second chances and ultimately, truth-telling.
Without being didactic, the film also shows that it’s not always a good idea to use foul language around small children who promptly imitate the elders who ought to know better. But evidently don’t (care) You will, certainly, care about all of the characters from the search for birth mothers, the best friend’s (Leah Remini) travails raising two kids, the mousy but most endearing office assistant (Charlyne Yi) and most of all, Maya who is brought life in a way that only the talented Ms Lopez can.