“Jenny from the Block” strikes again as a woman from the rough and tough streets of New York with the heart and drive of a big city entrepreneur in Second Act. With no college degree, years of homelessness under her belt and a boss who underestimates her loyalty and ambition, Maya (Jennifer Lopez) finds herself wishing for a change in her life. Little does she know that fate is in the works to land her a dream job for which she isn’t technically qualified – although it comes at the cost of a few white lies, a fake Facebook profile and unremitting paranoia.
The film starts with what seems to be more of the usual themes: a Queens store clerk is rejected for the job she worked towards for 15 years. Her only wish on her 43rd birthday is that the world would consider street smarts to be as important as book smarts. Meanwhile, her charming boyfriend-of-five-years Trey (Milo Ventimiglia) keeps pushing the idea of starting a family. He doesn’t know that Maya gave up her only child for adoption when she was a teenager, and has no interest in having more children. Her stance is solid, and the two part ways in a heart-breaking separation.
At the same time, the son of Maya’s best friend Joan (Leah Remini) hears her wish and decides to take it upon himself to completely revamp her image. He creates various false degrees and social media profiles, setting her up with a job interview at a large conglomerate. Before the protagonist even fully realises what happened, she gets the job and starts her new life as a corporate consultant, setting off a series of events that will test her competency and willpower.
Second Act utilises many of the predictable tropes that made Lopez a household name in the movie industry. However, unlike Maid in Manhattan, The Wedding Planner and many other romcom classics we all know and (guiltily) love, audiences get to see a refreshing feminist twist on what would otherwise be a typical Hollywood comedy.
One of the characters that Maya is introduced to during her job interview is Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens), the boss’s daughter, who gives Maya the impression that she will be her number one competitor. After the two women decide to compete against one another on a big project, it’s easy to assume where the film is headed. Instead, the pair suddenly bond and rather than fight like cats, they decide to help one another out despite their contest in an uplifting show of solidarity.
The plot takes an even bigger and more unexpected turn with a huge revelation that changes the lives of both Zoe and Maya. You can literally hear small gasps from the audience, and it is at this point that the movie is raised to a completely different level.
It’s great to see that Second Act isn’t centred on romance, but rather the relationship between two women, friends and family. The film is certainly an unexpected delight, and worth a trip to the cinema for some good-hearted fun.
Second Act is released nationwide on 25th January 2019.
Watch the trailer for Second Act here: