As I reclined in the comfy oversized leather chair, popcorn in hand, to check out a special screening of Jennifer Lopez’s new movie, “Second Act,” I wasn’t sure to expect of this Christmas release. Would it be a comedy? Pure romance? All drama? I quickly discovered it was a good mixture of all three. This breezy and fun dramedy has lots of humor, fashion, and of course, romance. But, it is also a tale of second chances.
Throughout the film, I found “Second Act” oddly reminiscent of the plot of “Working Girl” and also “Maid in Manhattan,” one of Lopez’s earlier films. Both are tales about a woman from a working-class background trying to make it in the big city. In “Second Act,” Lopez plays Maya, a 40-year-old woman with no college degree, grappling with frustrations from unfulfilled dreams in her career.
The movie begins with Maya believing she has a real shot of becoming a branch manager at the store where she’s excelled for more than a decade. But when she is passed over for a promotion in favor of a coworker with a fancy college degree, her best friend’s hacker son Dilly, played by Dalton Harrod, gives her a hand as well as a whole new online persona and resumé.
He describes Maya as an established product of Harvard, Wharton, the Peace Corps, and Estée Lauder. The only problem: None of these credentials are real, which ultimately leads to some hilarious scenarios later in the flick.
Thanks to the new resumé, Maya snags a consulting job at a Manhattan beauty corporation headed by Anderson Clarke (Treat Williams) along with his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), who at first is an office rival.
What I enjoyed most was watching Lopez’s supporting cast — including her real-life best friend Leah Remini, play off her comedic talents, along with the wacky performance of Charlyne Yi as her acrophobic new assistant — they each moved the scenes quickly and kept me and the whole audience laughing continuously.
Milo Ventimiglia, well-known for his recurring role as the family patriarch Jack Pearson in NBC’s “This is Us,” played his part well as the dreamy baseball coach boyfriend. It was charming to see him relax a little and play a less serious character alongside Lopez. Their chemistry wasn’t half bad either.
Overall, the film has something to say, at least slantingly, about class prejudice in today’s climate. Lopez’s character tells you, between the lines, that sometimes degrees measure up to a different sort of glass ceiling, one that is designed to keep “working class” citizens on the outside. “Second Act” is all about smashing through those barriers, any way you can.
Make sure to grab your best girlfriends and catch the film in theaters today.