Second Act Blu-ray Review: Not Exactly Working Girl

Lying about one's (or one's child's) accomplishments are all over the news lately, which points out another unpleasant aspect of the film and Maya's character that is never fully addressed.
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Second Act features Jennifer Lopez as Maya, a 40-year-old assistant manager at a Walmart-like chain store full of big ideas, but who is hampered in her desire to move forward with her career because she lacks a college degree. Cue the fairy godmother, in the form of her best buddy Joan's (Leah Remini) internet-savvy son, who overnight creates a brilliant, completely false college-plus-plus online existence for Maya. But wait, there's more - he also has submitted her faux resume to a bunch of companies, and believe it or not, one of the firms, which just so happens to also be the parent company of the retail chain she works for, has called her in to interview for the job of a lifetime.

Almost everything in Second Act is unbelievable and sometimes even cringe-inducing, but it does prove one thing - Jennifer Lopez has a ton of charm and she can sell almost anything. She makes the film watchable, at times almost enjoyable. The rest of the cast, including Remini, Treat Williams, Vanessa Hudgens, and Milo Ventimiglia as Maya's long-suffering boyfriend, are also charming. It's just so frustrating that they are all forced to perform in a such a sub-par script. The disc's bonus extras make a big point in showing us that Lopez and Remini are best buddies in real life, too. One wishes they had found a better vehicle to pair up in.

secondAct1.jpgBest Buddies and Coworkers Joan and Maya (Leah Remini, Jennifer Lopez)

secondact2.jpgMaya Interacts with Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens)

Maya: I wish we lived in a world where street smarts equals book smarts.

I wish we lived in a world that didn't let scripts as dumb as this one get green-lit before undergoing massive amounts of rewrites. Lopez does look fantastic in costumes by Patricia Field and Molly Rogers. New York City locations provide an atrractive, if predictable, backdrop for this underdog story. Second Act just doesn't know what it wants to be. A romance? A heartwarming mother-daughter story? A broad comedy? It's an uneven mix of emotional scenes intercut with pratfalls and jokes that fall flat. Not to mention a completely uncute subplot romance between two of Lopez's coworkers. And it also features another unfortunate movie trope - the gaggle of best friends who only exist to cheer on the hero or heroine and seem to have no personal lives of their own (also see Bridget Jones's Diary). Remini is given a character, but that character veers wildly from being Lopez's cheeleader to her scold from scene to scene. The filmmakers should have viewed Joan Cusack's and Melanie Griffith's characters and their friendship more closely in Working Girl, a superior film, and clearly the inspiration for Second Act.

Bonus items on the disc include snippets of interviews with the cast: Connecting With Milo Venimiglia, The Empowering Women of Second Act, Friendship On and Off Screen, Working With the Ones You Love, and the Theatrical Trailer. Also included are theatrical trailers for upcoming disc releases The Upside, Serenity, Uglydolls, Mary Queen of Scots, and Vox Lux.

Lying about one's (or one's child's) accomplishments are all over the news lately, which points out another unpleasant aspect of Second Act and Maya's character that is never fully addressed. Are we supposed to cheer on her lies or hope she fails and falls? Is either outcome really ideal for a Jennifer Lopez comedy?

Second Act will be released on Blu-ray and DVD March 26, 2019

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