Tag Archives: Jennifer Lopez

TIFF19: Hustlers

It’s hard out there for a ho.  You’ve got to be a certain kind of broke, maybe a certain kind of desperate, to take to the pole.  When Dorothy (Constance Wu) a.k.a. “Destiny” does it, she’s saving her Nana from debt.  She makes money but not loads – the club takes a big cut, and maybe she’s just not that good.  So call it Dorothy’s lucky day when stripper extraordinaire Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) takes Destiny under her wing.

Ramona makes it rain.  Er, well, money rains down hard on her.  The stage is coated so thickly in cash it looks like it’s been blanketed in snow.  After rolling around in it, Ramona clutches the bills to her like it’s fur.  Ramona IS money.  But then the recession hits, and with Wall Street hit hard, the strip club’s big spenders disappear.

hustlers_0HERO-ForWebsiteONLYThat’s when Destiny and Ramona make a little luck of their own.  Both single mothers, they are struck with the entrepreneurial spirit.  Sex, money, drugs – they’re a match made in heaven.  Or in a gentlemen’s club.  Where the men are ANYTHING but gentlemen.

You can try to extrapolate themes of…friendship, greed, revenge?  Sure.  Let’s call it a rebellion where the poor and disenfranchised rise up against the rich, entitled assholes.  But the truth is, the film is rather light on theme but heavy on girl-on-girl action.  Lots of skimpy costumes that mostly just consist of strings with which to cling dollar bills to glitter-streaked bodies.  There’s lots of booty shaking and titty popping and hip gyrating and pole humping.  Which, let’s face it, is what the people want.  On that score, you couldn’t possibly be disappointed.

Is it hard to root for the protagonists?  Absolutely.  Is it even harder to feel sorry for their victims?  Darn tootin’.  Is it morally murky?  Of course.  It’s a movie about strippers who want more and get it.

Should we bother objectifying the women?  Let’s not.  Jennifer Lopez: you’ve seen her.  She’s amazing.  And she’s 50.  That woman works the pole like her thighs are made of margarine.  So while this isn’t the most fervent review of Hustlers, it’s a 1000% endorsement of J-Lo’s fitness regimen.

Second Act

I didn’t expect to like Second Act. I didn’t expect Second Act to be good. But I definitely didn’t expect Second Act to be so monumentally stupid.

It shouldn’t be too much to expect the writers of a big studio release to do some research and get at least up to a basic level of knowledge on the major plot points of their film. But that clearly IS too much to expect, because Second Act, a film about an outsider crashing the 1%’s corporate party, literally gets everything wrong about business when, after taking some creative liberties with her online profiles, Jennifer Lopez’s character, an assistant manager at a grocery store, secures a consultancy at a fake multinational company. A fake multinational company which seems to have its own skyscraper in Manhattan and which has made numerous questionable decisions, including having its R&D located in the same Manhattan skyscraper at its executive offices, categorically banning the use of non disclosure agreements, and making product decisions based on thirty-second presentations from two teams of four pitted against each other in a spontaneous three-month-long competition at the insistence of Lopez’s main rival. None of those things would or could ever happen because they are insane, but they happen in Second Act because that’s what the plot requires.

If that wasn’t infuriating enough, Second Act ALSO gets everything wrong about parenting, teen pregnancy, abortion and adoption, which should probably be tagged with a spoiler alert if I thought anyone would care.

And just in case I hadn’t been turned off by those shortcomings, Second Act throws in some needlessly cheap “comedy” including Jennifer Lopez taking a tumble during what should be a triumphant exit, and an exploding flock of doves released during Team Lopez’s product presentation.

Please don’t reward Second Act’s laziness and idiocy like I accidentally did after failing to find something for us to watch on Netflix earlier this week. I know you are better than that and will continue to say “no” to monumental stupidity. Say “no” to Second Act.

The Boy Next Door

This is not a good movie. If you want to see a good movie, go to any other movie and there’s a chance it might be good. There’s not a hope in heaven of this one being decent but if you’ve simply come to worship at the altar of Jennifer Lopez, buy your ticket and prepare to feast your eyes.

Ms. Lopez plays a high school teacher with a teenage son and a cheating ex-husband. So right Jennifer+Lopez+Set+Boy+Next+Door+6L6ErgtYJHAloff the bat, you don’t buy it. There’s no school board in the world who’d think it a good idea to let her smoulder in spike heels and a clingy pencil skirt in front of hormonal teenage boys on a daily basis. She inspires lust with every bat of her long lashes and apparently routinely wears sexy lingerie under her clothes, yet her husband’s going to wander? Okay, yeah, it happens. Men cheat for all kinds of stupid reasons. It’s just a weird casting decision to go with an iconic sex goddess as the scorned, middle-aged wife.  And it’s nearly as baffling to cast John Corbett as the philandering husband since he’s basically America’s puppy dog. He exudes charm and loyalty and together-foreverness.

So, their marriage is on the rocks. They’re living separately but not quite at the letting-go stage, which is a fine time for a hunky, strapping young man to move in next door (Ryan Guzman). The camera pays close-up attention to his slick muscles to the exclusion of unimportant details like his face. This guy is just a body for hire. A body, meet The Body.

But guess what! Affairs be complicated, especially the May-December ones. Except it’s Jennifer Lopez, and this guy is the same age as most of the guys she dates in real life. But let’s face it, if you were a high schooler who got to bag J-Lo, wouldn’t you do everything you could to keep it going? At least long enough to invite her to prom, right?

Boy-Next-Door-Movie-Sex-SceneSupposedly this film turns into a “thriller” but there aren’t a lot of thrills. But did the screenwriter maybe pick up a big box of clichés for a dime a piece at a garage sale? Yes, those are abundant. In fact, I think she may have just cut up a lot of second-tier scripts, and pasted them back together haphazardly to make something the writers’ room at Days of Our Lives wouldn’t see fit to air. Every time someone opens their mouth, gouda falls out. Oh who am I kidding? It’s more like spray cheez and Guzman just about drenches us with it during his so-called seduction scene. The dialogue is so cheesy I wished I could have just turned the volume off. Because let’s face it. Jenny from the block is down to her black lace panties and we didn’t come here for the talking. Unfortunately, Lopez is trying to turn us on by mewling. I’m certain that in real life she has sex like the bombshell she is, but her “acting” sounds more like a little girl sneezing than a grown woman coming.

The best part about this movie is that I saw it during a weekday matinée in South Keys, just about the only cinema in Ottawa showing daytime movies anymore. Such a shame, because you’ve never seen such a diverse group of characters than those pointed at the screen. A the-boy-next-doorwoman seated a few rows behind me tsk’ed the whole way through. You know that clucking sound old women make when they’re disapproving? It’s usually a series of tsks – this particular woman did 5 in a row, and did them at everything. She seemed to be more disapproving  of reckless driving than murder so I don’t know what her deal was or why she felt the need to CONSTANTLY share it with the theatre (probably 3-4 dozen times during a 90 minute movie) but boy do I love non-verbal editorializing from strangers. Love! Almost as much as I loved hearing from the woman sitting two seats away from me, who came in late and respected the buffer my coat draped across an empty seat implied but just talked louder to compensate. During a scene involving a very large epi pen I cringed and looked away. She practically fell out of her seat to comfort me. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” she said, arms flapping, no thought to anyone trying to actually watch the movie. “I’ve seen it before” she says “and it turns out okay.” Colour me relieved. Wait- what? You know how bad this movie is and you paid to see it again? Exactly how many times has she seen this? Enough that she now has a rapport with Lopez – she yells to her “It’s your own fault!” and when this fails to elicit a response she turns to me and yells “It’s her own fault!” and when this also fails to elicit a response (other than my shrinking down further in my seat) she turns back to the screen and tries again “It’s your own fault!” Oh that Jennifer Lopez. She never learns.