by Mandi Bierly
25 April 2010
Is Alex O’Loughlin a movie star?
That’s the question I wanted to answer when I went to see The Back-up Plan this weekend. For all my documented appreciation of his hotness, I was surprisingly skeptical. I feel like for a TV actor to make it on the big screen, his lure should be so powerful that you have to watch whatever series he appears on – and even though I’d been bitten by Moonlight, I never actually made it to Three Rivers. Would his charisma carry to the back of the theater?
Perhaps you can guess the answer is yes from the headline. Before I begin listing the ways The Back-up Plan did him right, I should probably reveal a few things in the sake of full disclosure. I was with Michael Slezak, who agreed to see this movie with me the moment the shot of O’Loughlin riding a tractor shirtless was released. Also, we had to sit in the second row because we took the time to stop for a drink beforehand. We were only a little tipsy. Like, just enough for me to say, “Release the O’Loughlin!” when we passed Clash of the Titans on our way to Theater 10, and for him to suggest that be my headline. Now, on we go…
1. The wet entrance. I think I actually leaned over to Slezak and said, “He’s wet,” when O’Loughlin’s character, Stan (Slezak: “Stan???”), a maker of fine goat cheese, climbed into the same cab Jennifer Lopez’s pet store owner Zoe did during a New York City rain. By the way, I don’t care if Zoe was in a great mood because she’d just been artificially inseminated and didn’t want a fight to ruin it – no way does anyone give up a cab during a storm in Manhattan.
2. The Henleys. I always wondered why a man wearing a Henley drove me wild. But as soon as the movie ended, Slezak said, “Even in his working hours, he looked like he was ready for bed,” and I got it. (Slezak also said something about Stan looking a little bit like an off-duty Santa Claus in the North Pole, which sounded weird until you think about the warm fuzzy feeling you get.)
3. The shirtlessness. Really, the still photos on or around that tractor don’t do him justice. You need to see him in motion, starting from the back. I had a slight problem with Zoe staring at Stan instead of the road while she was driving into his upstate New York farm and hitting a tree. Yes, pregnant women can get really, let’s call it excitable, and I can believe that anyone could get that distracted looking at a man. (When I was a teen in central PA, I was walking with my mother when Aaron, an attractive Amish boy who’d done some work for my parents, passed us in a buggy. My head turned to follow him, and I walked off the side of the road, tripped, fell, and scraped my hand and knee.) But pretending that little joke wasn’t dangerous for a pregnant woman? Unnecessary. I also took issue with Stan throwing out Zoe’s giant pregnancy pillow. I know men’s frustration with that celibacy wall is very real – and in the context of the film, you could argue that Zoe, who was deep-down convinced that Stan wouldn’t stay with her since he wasn’t the biological father, was really using it as a wall around her heart. But I love sleeping way too much to see anyone stripped of something that helps them do it, let alone a pregnant woman. However, watching O’Loughlin then remove his shirt with such purpose – as if to say, this is what you want, this is what you need to wrap yourself around – was hot enough that I forgave him.
4. The ability to give multiple orgasms. Yes, yes, this is technically a wonderful side effect of Zoe’s pregnant body being supersensitive, but it can’t not reflect positively on Stan. Props to Lopez for committing to that moment in Stan’s what, cheese barn?, when she was satisfied by steamy foreplay alone, but it was also hilarious because in the back of their minds, some women in the audience were thinking that being that close to him would be all it would take.
5. The movie was actually funny. Originally, I thought I’d be filing whatever I wrote about The Back-up Plan under our “I Saw It, So You Don’t Have To!” category, but both Slezak and I enjoyed it. Bottom line: Mainstream romantic comedies are going to have cliché moments, but the good ones find a way to still make those jokes work. A pregnant lady being so hungry she dips two pieces of bread into a vat of stew when she can’t find a spoon – I laughed. A man freaking out while watching a doctor (Robert Klein) do his work down there (“Vagina! Vagina! Vagina!”) – I laughed. A park dad (Anthony Anderson) revealing the truth about parenthood, saying it’s awful, awful, awful, then something magical happens, right before his son comes over and opens his hand to reveal a piece of poop (“This ain’t even his s—”) – I laughed. The water birth Zoe and Stan are forced to witness – I laughed. Every sarcastic quip that came out of the mouth of Zoe’s friend (SNL’s Michaela Watkins) – I laughed.
Would I pay to see the movie again? No. But it was a fun night with a good crowd that applauded at the end. And I’ll totally watch it when TBS plays it in a Lopez triple feature with The Wedding Planner and Monster-in-Law.
Your turn. Did you laugh? Are you convinced Alex O’Loughlin can be a movie star? Like Matthew McConaughey, he’s masculine but still has a soft side – rom-coms could be his new home.
PS. All caps from bluray and should be enjoyed in full size 😉