Second Act

That’s a wrap on the Jennifer Lopez season of the Ten Movies podcast. Our final episode concerns 2018’s ‘Second Act’, a movie you probably haven’t seen or heard of, but which serves as a fitting finale to this season. As we have noted for pretty much all of these movies, Jennifer Lopez is often much stronger than the films she appears in, and ‘Second Act’ is no exception.

This episode is also notable for being the film that Brian and Hemal most vehemently disagreed over, with Hemal accusing Brian of hating the movie because he hates women and Brian accusing Hemal of having “pork chops instead of brains”. Ugly stuff, to be sure, but it makes for riveting audio content.

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‘Second Act’ was also a fitting finale, since J Lo’s character is a classic J Lo archetype: a tough, classy, working-class, outer-borough broad who gets one over on the swells. After being passed over for a manager gig at Value City, her friends set her up with a fancy Midtown job after creating a fake persona that pairs her actual street smarts and sales know-how with fake degrees from Harvard and the Wharton School.

Twist, though. What may, at first glance, have seemed like a retread of ‘Working Girl’ or ‘Maid in Manhattan’ is a totally different thing, because the catty young executive J Lo clashes with turns out to be [horn blast] the daughter she gave up for adoption lo these many years ago. So they do a lot of bonding and J Lo turns out to be really great at being a corporate executive but then her beautiful loving daughter and beautiful loving boyfriend both get pissed off because she lied to the and everything falls apart, but then everything is fine.

Jennifer Lopez is great in the movie, and Hemal dug it, in large part because it’s a rare film that is about women’s struggles and friendships unrelated to their relationships with men. Brian had mixed feelings, because yes to the preceding bits, but a lot of the the major relationship beats felt contrived and all the “comedy” stuff spackled on top of the film to make it (presumably) easier to market was awful. We end up arguing over this at length.

This would seem to be a good place to summarize what we learned by watching ten Jennifer Lopez movies, but for that you’ll have to wait, because we’re doing one more very special episode, summarizing our findings and ranking the movies we watched. That episode, like all of them, will be charming and free.

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