04th Feb2019

‘Second Act’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens, Treat Williams, Milo Ventimiglia, Annaleigh Ashford, Charlyne Yi, Alan Aisenberg, Freddie Stroma, Dave Foley, Larry Miller, Dierdre Friel | Written by Justin Zackham, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas | Directed by Peter Segal


Second Act is a comedy in the vein of Working Girl and Maid In Manhattan. Jennifer Lopez stars as Maya, a 40-year-old woman struggling with frustrations from unfulfilled dreams. Until, that is, she gets the chance to prove to Madison Avenue that street smarts are as valuable as book smarts, and that it is never too late for a Second Act.

Peter Segal director of such comedic juggernauts in Get Smart, The Longest Yard and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps follows on from his latest 2013 semi-dramatic comedic boxing film Grudge Match with a Jennifer Lopez feministic inspired dramedy Second Act. A film that has a wonderful charming heart and beautiful melancholic nature but sadly all undone with tragic conventional tropes and instances of astonishingly tone-deaf humour.

Let’s start with the positives. The performances are terrific. Leah Remini steals every second she is utilised on screen. Her charisma and charm are wonderfully vibrant and even abstract on occasion but offer so much in terms of both entertainment value and engagement with the somewhat conventional material at hand. Her relationship and dynamic with Lopez is full of gusto flavour and effective humour. It subtly pulls you into an ever so inviting environment that’s remarkably warm and honest. Lopez showcases some serious acting chops here also. A more mature and dramatic demeanour to what we’ve seen before is on offer and when the heartstrings begin to pull it does so with a strong conviction in emotionally sensitive layers.

The issues arise with how convenient certain sub-plots are integrated in what sadly feels artificial and far too on the nose to work as successfully as intended. Ultimately swaying the emotional explosive gravitas, the film holds at its fingertips a firm development, sadly releasing its strong grip and letting the film loose in the wind. However, Second Act‘s biggest sin is the inclusion of one such joke that derails the whole train. A joke that lasts admittedly only a few minor seconds but surrounds the topic of Transgender being the punchline of a stupid and quite frankly pointless joke. It just doesn’t need to be here what so ever. For a film that is 90% about strong female characters, mirroring our very own culture with Times Up and MeToo fighting the misogynist system of male privilege would seem to be incredibly out of place and it is.

Second Act is in cinemas now.


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