Second Act asks the question whether street smarts can ever equal book smarts. It also asks whether a relationship can ever be built on a lie. Neither is a particularly new line of inquiry in a flick. Jennifer Lopez in a Maid In Manhattan poor-girl-makes-good, woe-is-me role is not new, either.
This movie works because Vanessa Hudgens, Treat Williams, and Leah Remini have such positive energy that carries it until the Lopez-Hudgens characters bond. I give this girl-buddy flick 3.5 Gavels and it receives a 42% Rotten Tomatoes rating.
Maya works for a chain store for 15 years, recently as assistant manager. Despite having the best -performing store in the region, the promotion goes to a man with a degree. Her friends prepare a false bio and send her to an interview with a large cosmetic firm in NYC. She gets the job, not realizing that her competition will be the boss’ daughter. By the way, her personal life is a wreck, a must for a rom-com.
Jennifer Lopez is Maya, too pouty by half for my taste. Her vibrant personality just doesn’t get to shine. In contrast, Vanessa Hudgens, as Zoe, steals the screen as the poised, polished business executive. Treat Williams is well, a treat, as the owner of the business and father of Zoe. Leah Remini, Maya’s best friend, reminds everyone why she was beloved on The King of Queens. Many of you will remember quirky, funny Charlyne Yi, here as an assistant to Maya, from her days on House.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Audience score is only 50% for Second Act. The critics clearly hate the plot twist which, I agree, is far-fetched. But, most rom-coms possess contrivances. Interestingly, this movie was to open in November, then moved to Christmas due to outstanding screening results. The Christmas scenes in New York are a nice touch. Given that this movie made $15 million already on a $16 million budget, Jennifer will likely make more rom-coms. She has the charm; now, just give her a slightly better script.