A recent New York Times profile of Jennifer Lopez — punctuated with cameo appearances by her boyfriend, onetime Mariner Alex Rodriguez — made the star sound like more of a conglomerate than a human being.
Her ability to juggle music and acting and her production company and Instagram is apparently definitive. It should come as no surprise that a J. Lo skin-care line is next.
With all that going on, it’s a wonder anybody has time to be a movie star. And Lopez’s film career has seemed like an afterthought lately.
“Second Act,” a cannily designed return to the big screen, seeks to address this issue. And it takes about 30 seconds or so for the film to prove that, whatever distractions Jennifer Lopez has been dabbling in lately, she is a completely effortless and very appealing movie star.
She plays Maya, a 40-year-old assistant manager at a big-box store. She’s repeatedly passed over for promotion because she didn’t go to college and because she’s female.
So her pal (Leah Rimini) applies on Maya’s behalf for a fancy New York City job. The application includes many falsified academic accomplishments.
You can see where this is going, so we need not go into details about how Maya gets hired and proves herself to her new boss (Treat Williams) and his skeptical daughter (former “High School Musical” diva Vanessa Hudgens).
The twist is that instead of focusing on Maya’s romantic life (she does have a boyfriend, played by “This Is Us” star Milo Ventimiglia), “Second Act” veers into a new plotline about Maya’s decision to give up a child for adoption many years earlier.
It probably shouldn’t work, but it kind of does. The film feels committee-made, but the office comedy clicks well enough and the adoption story gets a pleasantly casual treatment.
It’s stuffed with dubious platitudes ready for bumper stickers, including Maya’s musings about how people “make their own fate,” and — a phrase that operates like fingernails on a blackboard for me — “Everything happens for a reason.”
There’s nothing here to ruffle any feathers, as the film’s the-future-is-female spirit leans more toward “Working Girl” than “Norma Rae.” Lopez is a charmer throughout, and Charlyne Yi and Annaleigh Ashford provide funny support as her co-workers.
“Second Act” is also an excellent commercial for J. Lo’s upcoming beauty-care line (the plot revolves around a skin cream). That makes sense for this expert multi-tasker, who folds her movie stardom neatly under the umbrella of J.Lo Incorporated.
“Second Act” (2½ stars)
A formula comedy, about a 40-year-old assistant manager (Jennifer Lopez) hired by a big-time Manhattan corporation because of falsified academic claims. An unexpected plot twist about adoption makes the movie a little different, and J. Lo’s effortless charm keeps the whole thing fairly painless.
Rating: PG-13, for subject matter
Opening: Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Meridian, Pacific Place, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Cascade Mall