In spite of years of experience at the store where she works and increasing sales tenfold, Maya’s (Jennifer Lopez) lack of a college degree prevents her from rising in her career. A chance interview she gets based on a CV and identity that her best friend’s son made up for her sees her offered the job opportunity of a lifetime. New colleague Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens) is determined to make things difficult for her.
The term ‘chick flick’ isn’t really used when describing movies anymore. However it is a genre that has provided us with several classics over the years. ‘Legally Blonde’, ‘Mean Girls’, ‘Clueless’, ‘13 Going on 30’ and ‘Never Been Kissed’ would all belong to the category. Indeed, Jennifer Lopez is no stranger to this body of films, having starred in ‘The Wedding Planner’ and what is likely the guiltiest of guilty pleasure movies, ‘Maid in Manhattan’.
‘Second Act’ feels much of the same ilk of those aforementioned 90s-00s classics. There’s something fun and sweet and innocent about it that you can’t help but enjoy. It’s been too long since we’ve seen a film like this, one that is far from prestigious but has a message of female empowerment – one recollects the calls to ‘girl power’ of yesteryear – that is irresistible. While recalling the ‘chick flicks’ of recent decades, ‘Second Act’ updates their message. It provides a contemporary narrative about modern-day feminism that, in spite of an incredibly unlikely twist, you can’t help but be won over by.
JLo exudes fabulousness as she reminds you that she has dominated film (remaining one of Hollywood's highest paid actresses to date) as well as the music industry. She is able to switch from being a force of nature to poignantly vulnerable in seconds. Opposite her, Leah Remini is hilarious and charming as the best friend. And it’s a nice change of pace to see a male romantic interest – ‘This is Us’ star Milo Ventimiglia – have only a minor function in the wider narrative.
With sweet, funny, girly moments such as a scene where Maya dances with her friends in the kitchen, and a ‘mean girl’ to be ‘vanquished’ in Vanessa Hudgens (best-known for ‘High School Musical’, she has been making a comeback of late between this and her Netflix Christmas movie ‘The Princess Switch’), ‘Second Act’ is best described – and consumed – as a crowd-pleasing chick flick. It has its issues, including some over-the-top drama, hit-and-miss jokes, and contrived emotional moments, but it’s a cheesy, feel-good film that is ideal for girl’s night.