Second Act (12A)



Comedy (2018)
104mins US

Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini, Milo Ventimiglia
Director: Peter Segal
Writer(s): Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Justin Zackham
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Maya Vargas works at Value Shop in Queens. She is reasonably content with her life with baseball coach boyfriend Trey. He would dearly like to start a family together but heartbreak in her past prevents them from taking the next step. Dilly, savvy teenage son of Maya's best friend Joan, refreshes her CV and creates fake credentials. Maya is subsequently hired by leading cosmetics company boss Anderson Clarke to brainstorm a new organically sourced skincare product to revitalise his brand.

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LondonNet Film Review
Second Act (12A)

Thirty years after Melanie Griffith demonstrated "a head for business and a bod for sin" in the Oscar-nominated fairy tale Working Girl, Jennifer Lopez slips into similar glass slippers in director Peter Segal's comedy drama of female empowerment in corporate America. Scripted by Justin Zackham and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Second Act asks us to suspend disbelief and accept that a street-smart Jenny from the block could land an executive role at a leading cosmetics company with a fake CV that includes a crudely Photoshopped picture of the heroine posing with the Obamas...

Second Act. Copyright: 2017 STX Financing, LLC. Caption: Leah Remini as Joan and Jennifer Lopez as Maya in Second Act, directed by Peter Segal. Photo: Barry Wetcher. All Rights Reserved.It's wish-fulfilment writ large and Segal's film repeatedly encourages the audience to think big because the only thing holding us back from achieving our dreams...is us. Ironically, the middle section of Second Act proves its undoing, dominated by an emotionally manipulative contrivance that drowns any good invested in the roughly sketched characters in a sea of sugary sentiment. Lopez delivers one of her better big-screen performances, oozing likeability and vulnerability as her impostor ricochets between self-doubt, sass and slapstick, including an amusing face plant learnt from the Sandra Bullock handbook of pratfalls.

That mishap takes place in Value Shop in Queens, where Maya Vargas (Lopez) has devoted 12 years and boosted profits with her innovations. Alas, the lack of a college education shatters Maya's dreams of promotion and she drowns her sorrows with baseball coach boyfriend Trey (Milo Ventimiglia) and best friend Joan (Leah Remini). "I wish we lived in a world where street smarts equal book smarts," tearfully confides Maya. The following day, Maya's tech-savvy godson Dilly (Dalton Harrod) refreshes her CV and creates fake credentials including a Harvard education and Facebook updates about a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. She is subsequently hired by Anderson Clarke (Treat Williams) to oversee the development of an organic skincare product to revitalise his brand. Anderson's adopted daughter Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens), who also works at the company, takes an immediate dislike to Maya and proposes a competition between two teams. Zoe surrounds herself with powerful, profit-driven allies including development executive Ron (Freddie Stroma) and top scientist Felix (Dave Herman). Meanwhile, Maya is left with a trio of misfits comprising cynical executive Hildy (Annaleigh Ashford), kooky scientist Chase (Alan Aisenberg) and acrophobic personal assistant Ariana (Charlyne Yi). "The lie got you in the door but you got the job," Joan assures her gal pal.

Second Act whips up a froth of sisterly solidarity in glossy opening scenes and sustains the feelgood factor through copious tears and backstabbing. Lopez, who is also a producer, is luminous and catalyses believable screen chemistry with Hudgens in a clunky and underwritten supporting role. Remini feasts on the lion's share of potty-mouthed one-liners while Yi makes her "kinky" oddball a fleeting delight.

- Kim Hu

Second Act. Copyright: 2017 STX Financing, LLC. Caption: Leah Remini as Joan and Jennifer Lopez as Maya in Second Act, directed by Peter Segal. Photo: Barry Wetcher. All Rights Reserved.


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