Review: 'Second Act' has been around the block

Jennifer Lopez comedy uses its predictability like a weapon

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Jennifer Lopez and Vanessa Hudgens in "Second Act."

Eating a wad of raw cookie dough is satisfying, but it might also make you sick. 

That's how "Second Act" is. A workplace comedy in the classic mistaken identity mold, it doesn't try to raise or subvert your expectations in any way. Rather it meets them head on, the same way you know what you're going to get when you gnaw on a Nestle Toll House cookie log.   

Jennifer Lopez stars as Maya, a Queens gal whose lack of a college degree gets her passed up for a promotion at the Costco-like warehouse store where she has spent 15 years. "I wish we lived in a world where street smarts equaled book smarts," she laments, which may or may not be a line from Lopez' own "Maid in Manhattan."

Maya is street smart enough to pass off a resumé with false Ivy League credentials as her own, and she lands a job at a high-end cosmetics company. A high-wire act of false identity ensues — there's the classic scene where someone inquires about an old college professor that she would surely know — as the film acts like it found the blueprints to 1980s comedies like "Working Girl" or "The Secret of My Success," dusted them off and used them as treasure maps.

There's comfort in "Second Act's" predictability; the movie nestles into familiar beats and paths the same way you slip into a favorite pair of pajamas, but you wouldn't want to leave your house in them. There's the gratuitous dance scene set to an '80s song (Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It"), the wacky co-worker (Charlene Yi, stealing scenes in a small role), and the Big Presentation Where it all Comes Together. Even without seeing "Second Act," you've seen "Second Act," which is its strength and also its weakness.


'Second Act'


Rated PG-13 for some crude sexual references, and language

Running time: 105 minutes