A year before Jennifer Lopez stole the stage in Hustlers, she was in the movie Second Act. The comedy did so well in its initial screen tests that the studio moved the film to a December 2018 release in theaters, putting it up against DC’s Aquaman. While it didn’t do as well at the box office as they’d hoped, it did prove successful, and today, audiences are rediscovering it. The comedy is climbing the top streaming charts for HBO Max.
Jennifer Lopez plays Maya in Second Act. The mixed reviews for the movie praise her performance and the cast in general, which includes Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens, and Milo Ventimiglia. The beginning of the movie finds Maya working at a store called Value Shop. She’s been working in the store for fifteen years alongside her best friend, played by Leah Remini. She’s the assistant manager and expecting a promotion after the executive of her franchise comes to visit. Her customers, coworkers, and boyfriend (Milo Ventimiglia) assure her that she is a shoo-in for the promotion since she’s increased sales for the store and everyone loves her.
Instead, a man named Arthur is brought in for the job. When Jennifer Lopez asks her boss why he says that Arthur has a degree and her character does not. Store policy means that she will never get the promotion she’s been hoping for. This leads to Jennifer Lopez’s character telling her friend that she wants street smarts to be as respected as book smarts, a line that goes on to define her character for the rest of the movie.
So now Jennifer Lopez’s character is at a crossroads. Outwardly, she is determined to find a new, better job. Inside, she doesn’t believe she’ll ever find anything better. She believes the executive at her company was right. She confesses this to her best friend and continues on attempting to find a new job. In this “second act” for her life, she gets called in for a job interview for a job she doesn’t believe she’ll get. Unbeknownst to her, her best friend’s son has given her an edge.
During the interview, she discovers that her potential new employer has photos of her standing next to important figures like President Barack Obama. The photos show her on international vacations she’s never been on. She has an entirely different Facebook profile and news articles about her influence. Her best friend’s son is a computer programmer and he made everything look as real as possible, real enough to land her the job.
Second Act then sees Jennifer Lopez taking on a high-powered corporate job. She’s given a team. They’re tasked with developing a new product for the company in a competition against a team run by Vanessa Hudgens.
The movie sees Jennifer Lopez’s character finding her way in the corporate world and rediscovering who she is. It also sees her facing a surprise from her past that pops up halfway through the movie. That surprise is part of the reason for the mixed reactions from audiences, which felt contrived to many.
Today, Second Act has a 5.8 on IMDb. Audiences gave the film a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. The script receives most of the criticism. People say that the story is often muddled and isn’t worthy of Jennifer Lopez’s performance. Some reviewers said that there are a lot of great moments in the movie that are heartfelt or hilarious, but it creates an uneven story that could have been better.
At the box office, Second Act earned back over $72 million on a budget of $16 million. The film was estimated to need $40 million to break even, so was an overall success for the studio. However, when they had moved the release date to December, they had been expecting a great deal more money from its opening weekend.
Jennifer Lopez served as both the leading actress and a producer for Second Act. The movie is just one of many films she’s been in over the years. Audiences come back to watch her again and again, even in movies that don’t receive the best ratings on review sites. For example, Gigli is one of her worst-reviewed movies. She starred in the rom-com with Ben Affleck. The movie is still talked about often and something she’s never likely to get away from.
While the actress has ventured outside of romantic comedies several times, her acting career is still most well-known for her roles in that genre. The Wedding Planner was one of her bigger hits. Coming up, Jennifer Lopez is set to star in movies like Shotgun Wedding and Marry Me.