Maya is a high school dropout looking for a big career change. She knows her competition is highly educated B-school graduates, so it comes as a huge surprise when she lands the role of a highly paid consultant at a skin care firm. Maya believes it’s because of her ability to understand consumer needs based on her years of interactions with real customers. But she soon realises it’s because her godson created a fake identity for her with an elaborate history and education background. Now Maya must pretend to be someone she isn’t while trying to prove herself.
While the ‘fake it till you make it’ setup has been done before in Hollywood, ‘Second Act’ draws from the quote ‘the only one who can stop you is yourself’. To carry this relatable premise, director Peter Segal uses the film’s biggest strength – the undeniable charm of Jennifer Lopez. The rest of the cast is also well utilised with pleasing performances from pretty much the entire cast including Vanessa Hudgens, Leah Remini, Treat Williams, Milo Ventimiglia and Charlyne Yi. Although it goes through some standard beats that aren’t exactly innovative, the cast makes it reasonably entertaining till a point. But then it throws an absolutely unbelievable twist along the way; set up with typical dialogue to make it predictable. The film then takes off in a different direction, while trying to cash in on the twist.
The comedy mostly works, but there are some odd choices, one of which is around cursing that consistently fails to amuse. The screenplay switches back and forth from comedy to drama, with romance thrown in to ensure all the necessary boxes are ticked solely with the intent of making this a chick flick. Even the climax is orchestrated to be warm and fuzzy at the cost of being genuine. Instead of capitalising on its likeable cast and the still sensational Jennifer Lopez to make a fun, breezy and light-hearted rom-com, the film ultimately resorts to insulting your intelligence, especially in its ‘second act’.