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The Back-up Plan (US) (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000134029
Added by: David Beckett
Added on: 5/9/2010 12:03
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    The Back-up Plan

    2 / 10

    There are some films that are so utterly predictable that you realise within the first 10 minutes what the narrative arc will be and how it will end. The Back-up Plan is one such film. It begins with Zoe, a woman who was a successful career woman who was making a fortune with her Internet business before deciding to jack the whole thing in and buy a pet store which was selling inbred dogs, one of which she bought and now requires a trolley to help it get around as its rear legs don't work properly. Although she has had a string of boyfriends, Zoe has yet to meet Mr Right and so buys some donor sperm as she can hear that biological clock ticking and has given up on finding a man with whom she can marry, settle down and raise children.

    After leaving the fertility clinic and in an extremely good mood, she hails a cab and jumps in at the same time as Stan, a total stranger, and each claim that they hailed the cab first but, because no money has changed hands, no one has actually hired the vehicle. They both decide to do the gallant thing and get out, leaving the taxi to the other but it takes off without them, leaving the two in the pouring rain without transport. Although this doesn't come across on screen, a mutual attraction is there and begin to flourish and, when Zoe goes to the farmers market with her friend who is buying muffins to take to her kid's school 'teacher's appreciation day', so he notices that Stan is also there running a stall selling cheese from his 'Little Goat Farm'. One thing leads to another and they end up chatting, trying hard not to let the other know that they have feelings for them.

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    Although Zoe is attracted to Stan, she daren't do anything about it because, surprise surprise, her very first home pregnancy test has come back positive. Even so, she continues to see him but can never find the right moment to tell the truth. This all changes following an extremely passionate afternoon and evening at the Little Goat Farm where they make love in the barn containing all the cheese and Zoe's friend's assertion that pregnant women can be extremely horny proves to be right. Anyhow, she blurts out the truth to see how Stan will react and, predictably, he is a little taken aback. Nevertheless, he assures her that he will stick around and help raise the kids -- whoever they biologically belong to -- but a chance meeting with a father of two at a playground makes him realise the vast financial drain that the children will be, not to mention the constraints they were put on his life. It doesn't help that he didn't finish college and now goes to night school in order to get his degree so doesn't really have the time or money to put kids through school and college.

    Casting is such a key part of making a film and the right decision can be hailed as a stroke of genius or the wrong one can absolutely wreck a movie. In this case, you really need to suspend disbelief in order to buy into the idea that someone who looks and sounds like Jennifer Lopez (a woman who, in the early part of this century, was consistently considered one of the most beautiful and sexiest women in the world) will have a problem finding a man. Similarly, I really don't believe that someone with all of Zoe's insecurities would quite willingly be 'artificially inseminated' and then consider this whirlwind romance, no matter how good looking and charming Stan (Alex O'Loughlin) may be.

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    The Back-up Plan is a film marketed as a romantic comedy but is utterly devoid of sexual chemistry, humour or any sense of dramatic tension. It is a humourless and predictable exercise in making a romantic comedy that follows a well worn path in which two people are attracted to one another but an obstacle lies in their path to true happiness and it's a case of will they or won't they get together at the final reel. The answer, as always, is 'of course they will'. Along the way though, you have to put up with scenes in an obstetrician's clinic, a two legged dog this is increasingly neglected as the film goes on, a woman breastfeeding her three-year-old and a water birth in which the woman's bowels open while she demands to have a mirror so she can see the birth for herself.

    This film is barrel-scrapingly awful with an utterly leaden script full of formulaic plotting and elements of body humour that really make you wonder what writer Kate Angelo was thinking when she committed these thoughts to paper. I watched this with someone who is a big fan of romantic comedies and even she thought it was dreadful. This belongs in the 'Hall of Shame' with other terrible genre fare of the last year or two like Bride Wars, The Bounty Hunter and Leap Year.

    The Disc

    Extra Features
    There are a series of deleted scenes, running 7 minutes, and an 11 minute making of called Belly Laughs: Making The Back-up Plan which is less a making of featurette that a series of sycophantic interviews in which various members of the cast and crew say how great each other was, what a great script it is and what a joy it was to make the film which rings true in so many ways. (In case you couldn't tell, that last bit was sarcasm.)

    Finally, there are a series of trailers for other films. It is perhaps worth noting that all of these extra features are in 1080p high definition, just as they should be.

    You can also watch the film with movieIQ which will provide you with various bits of trivia, information about the cast and crew and what music is playing in the scene you are watching.

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    The Picture
    For something only three months out of cinemas, the picture should be extremely good and it is with incredible clarity, wonderful colours and contrast levels. It isn't the sort of film that you would use as reference material, but it does show, quite effortlessly, that a recent film in 1080p will look fairly stunning.

    This isn't something that is particularly groundbreaking in its cinematography or camerawork that the direction is competent enough and director Alan Poul knows what he's doing with framing, lighting and other elements of the mise en scène.

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    The Sound
    As with the picture, the soundtrack is one of the least challenging that the boffins at DTS will ever come across as it is predominantly dialogue dominated with nothing in the way of explosions, car chases or gunfights -- it is, after all, a fairly simple romantic comedy in which the central characters spent a great deal of time going over the mental wrangling surround or whether they can/should begin a relationship and, once they do, whether they can make it last. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does its job extremely well presented the dialogue and music with a high level of clarity.

    The score, by Stephen Trask, is utterly saccharine and sickly, ramming the emotional undercurrents down your throat for the entire running time and I knew the film was in trouble early on when Alan Poul chose to use some source music while Zoe was walking down the street to let us know what she was thinking at how she was feeling. One of the more galling aspect of the soundtrack is that one of the songs is provided by Jennifer Lopez herself and I didn't think much to her singing either.

    Should you need them, there are both English and English HoH subtitles.

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    Final Thoughts
    The Back-up Plan is a film that I didn't really expect to like but was amazed at just how terrible it turned out to be. It is utterly devoid of laughs and romantic tension and just shows the gulf between the great romantic comedies of recent years, such as When Harry Met Sally... and absolute bilge like this.

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