Let me just start off by saying, I like Jennifer Lopez. She’s very likable. She’s gorgeous, talented, successful. How many other former Fly Girls can you name? She’s got personality. She’s “Jenny from the block,” sweet and sexy with a touch of Bronx attitude.
According to her Wikipedia page she’s an: actress-singer-record producer-dancer-fashion designer-television producer. She’s all over the map. But to me, she will always be J-Lo: the uber-glamorous pop diva. (Not to be confused with uber-glamorous, pseudo-gothic, quasi-s&m pop diva a la Lady Gaga.) That pop diva image is pretty permanently planted in my brain. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing… until you try to get me to buy her as a lowly wedding planner longing for her Barbie dream house life only to fall in love with her client’s fiance or the lowly chambermaid who falls for a senatorial candidate only to wind up in a modern day Cinderella story or a desperate unmarried thirty-something who gets prematurely artificially inseminated just as she meets Mr. Right.
J-Lo isn’t lowly or a maid or desperate, not that she can’t play these things; it’s just that her J-Lo-ness prevents me from going along with these stories of ordinary people that she’s supposed to be portraying. Her whole J-Lo persona is so much larger than life that it overshadows most attempts to make her seem average. Granted, better writing might help my suspension of disbelief, but that seems like asking a bit much of a studio romantic comedy. Also, I’m not a member of the target audience, because I’m not a thirty-something suburban housewife, a forty-something lonely businesswoman, or a fifty-something mother with empty-nest syndrome who’s just started menopause.
But come on people, how can you expect us to believe that J-Lo is having so much trouble finding a husband that she’d ask her best guy friend to be her baby-daddy, and more than that, that her best guy friend is Eric Christian Olsen…
Can you really watch the trailer for The Back-up Plan and tell me that you honestly buy J-Lo as this Zoe person in this situation?
Funny and charming and appealing, sure; but a desperate woman, no. Still J-Lo.
Maybe my problem isn’t with J-Lo, maybe it’s just crappy rom-com fluff, cause I’m still a huge fan of Out of Sight and U Turn. I like Money Train and The Cell. Hell, I can even admit that I like Selena. But, all of those movies were pre-J-Lo status. She was still just Jennifer Lopez. Now she’s Latina media mogul J-Lo, and you’d think that with all the power that her status accrues she’d be able to get better scripts with more dynamic roles and thought-provoking stories.
Or, maybe she truly is just a pop diva, content with stories as safe and poppy and accessible as her music, now that she’s making $15,000,000.00 a picture. My only problem with this is, in the cookie-cutter world of rom-com movies, what happens to J-Lo when her draw isn’t worth her salary? When almost every romantic comedy these days seems less like derivative and more like facsimile, there’s an ever-increasing number of wannabe ingenues and up-and-coming It-girls who’ve yet to crack the million dollar salary mark who can easily play Sally version 9.0, wouldn’t it be better to make your mark rather than play it safe, before you end up, as G.E. Jewbury wrote, “like so many white elephants, of which nobody can make use, and yet that drain one’s gratitude, if indeed one does not feel bankrupt.”
I’m just worried about J-Lo. If she doesn’t dazzle us again soon, she might have to start bedazzling her own sunglasses some day. And I don’t know if that’s a world I want to live in.