Dateworthy? “Second Act”

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Is “Second Act” worth a date night in the new year? Yes!

This film is a sweet dramedy about a woman who is shot down for a dream promotion because she doesn’t have a college degree. However, she gets an even better job when her best friend’s son invents an entire fake identity for her online. The film is is cute fun from the get-go. But a surprising pro-life/pro-adoption plot twist comes into play and makes J. Lo’s latest kind of special.

Jennifer Lopez has been leading an eclectic career as an actress, singer and dancer for nearly a quarter-century. She’s managed to carve out a distinct brand for her persona. She’s famous in film as the impossibly pretty, vastly wealthy woman who can still make you believe she knows what it’s like to be an average working-class woman.

“Second Act” is a treat in a season dominated by noisy blockbusters

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Lopez’s latest film, “Second Act,” has flown under the radar of the Christmas blockbuster season. But the movie provides her the perfect role as Maya, a 40-year-old woman who goes for a big promotion to head manager at the Whole Foods-style supermarket she’s been working at for 15 years. When she loses the job because she only has a GED, Maya’s best friend’s son creates an entirely new and wholly false online persona for her so she can compete for better jobs that require higher education.

Suddenly Maya finds herself hired as a consultant by a line of facial creams. The company throws her in over her head amid a flashy corporate world with tons of perks. The company tasks Maya  with competing against Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens), the hotshot 24-year-old daughter of the company CEO (Treat Williams). They’re in a race to develop the best new organic skin cream. Maya finds a bigger surprise when it’s revealed that Zoe is the daughter she gave up for adoption during high school.

Adoption gives “Second Act” an unexpected pro-life appeal

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That plot twist is surprisingly effective. It lends an unexpected emotional depth to the film that balances well against a number of quirky fun supporting characters and screwball comedy moments. Among her friends are veteran “King of Queens” costar and famed ex-Scientologist Leah Remini. Leah plays best friend Joan with snappy sarcasm. Writers Justin Zackham and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas bring funny touches to a wide array of Maya’s co-workers in both her past blue-collar and new white-collar lives.

The writers also deliver some pretty hilarious off-beat sight gags and physical comedy at unexpected moments throughout. But it’s Maya’s relationship with her surprise daughter Zoe that forms the true heart of the movie. It’s refreshing to see a major movie character strongly espouse a pro-life and pro-adoption viewpoint. Maya makes it clear that she never considered anything but adoption for a moment, and Lopez delivers the lines with touching emotion.

Lopez knocks her well-rounded role out of the park. But unfortunately, “Second Act” has a couple of gaping plot holes and logical lapses that weaken it in the middle and near the finale. Since they’re connected to the plot twists that form the surprising center of the film, it’s unfair to spell them out in detail.

However, those are easily forgivable offenses in a movie that more often than not proves to be both funny and inspiring, while again giving viewers a true appreciation of life and making the most of the circumstances you’re forced to handle. Providing plenty of fodder for meaningful conversation in addition to a wide range of emotions, “Second Act” proves to be a first-rate date film.

The breakdown 

Characters: 8
Story line: 7
Emotions: 8
Performances: 9
Overall: 8 out of 10