Movie review: Second Act

Second Act— Running Time: 1:43 — Rating: PG-13
“Second Act” is a movie that would have succeeded mightily in the ’50s. Even in this era when moviemakers think every film must carry a lesson, or at least be good for us, this one is nice light fun. Just relax and enjoy it without thinking you must rise at the end having learned something.
Maya (Jennifer Lopez) is a successful store manager in Queens but she wants more. She’s smart and loaded with ambition. “Watch me!” she says to doubters. First casualty is the boyfriend who loves her but wants to marry her and have children.
After an important company sees her fake resume and the potential of the product she has developed in Queens, they make her head of a division and order her to refine and build it. Along with that comes a huge office, a fancy apartment and a division of the company for her to mold.
From there the story drops her into the lives of businessman Anderson Clarke (Treat Williams), his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) and the godson who made up that resume. Her old circle of pals sticks by her and helps her whenever she trips. They are funny by turns and as time passes, each of them features in a sub plot that makes us smile.
Aside from one competitor, the friends, family and office workers are all good people, no nasty sides here. With humor and skill, they handle several appealing subplots that surface. About half an hour in, we stop wondering whether we’re glad we came. In the beginning it’s just a big cast of odd characters but as each of them responds to challenges, they become fun to watch. That familiar feeling of looking for faults in the actors or the writing just disappears.
Charlyne Yi is the shy assistant who is a prisoner of her own fears only to emerge from her quiet role as an uninteresting woman into one who sparkles when the writer expands her part. That godson with the foul mouth (John James Cronin) sparkles with bad language and inventive plans for his godmother. Leah Remini, Williams and a fine supporting cast make contributions that are warm and funny.
Each actor contributes humor to the lighthearted plot by writers who created all this fun around the theme of making a cosmetic cream sensation out of gingko leaves. With a welcome smile in this heavy season, we realize we’re having a good time.
As Maya pursues her solution, her buddies are by her side with encouragement. And there’s the core of the fun: Jennifer Lopez. In this lightweight comedy, she creates a smart woman who is ambitious and fair to all as she rides her fake resume through the locked gates of the Ivy League acceptance structure. Just go to this one, settle in and enjoy an excellent cast as they hand us all a polished gem that is an island of fun in this serious year.
— Reviewed by Joan Ellis

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