A big-box-store worker reinvents her life and her life story and shows Madison Avenue what street smarts can do.
Second Act is a movie that has a lot to say about life; it just says it rather crudely at times. For anyone who has ever wanted a second chance to take care of a blown opportunity or make up for a bad decision, this is a movie you can relate to. Enter our main character, Maya (Jennifer Lopez), the manager of a Queens’ superstore, Value Shop, who is overlooked for a promotion despite 15 years under her belt. Her talent for increasing sales has made the store a tidy profit. However, thanks to a loyal friend and this friend’s son who makes an unscrupulous decision to pad Maya’s resume with a Harvard background as well as other blatant lies (unknown to Maya), she winds up working for a formidable women’s cosmetics company. She’s unhappy with how she won the job but is determined to show that “street smarts” can produce a greater outcome than “book smarts” can. After all, she only has her G.E.D. but a whole lot of gumption to go with it. When she is pitted against the boss’s daughter in a competition to come up with something more organic that will produce soaring sales, it looks like Maya’s “second act” will be much more lucrative than her first.
There are some bumps along the way. Maya’s boyfriend, Trey (Milo Ventimiglia), breaks up with her when she makes it clear she doesn’t want to start a family. The secret behind her reasoning, however, is revealed in the film. Ultimately Maya is confronted with either living a lie about her background or being willing to endure some pain to tell the truth. Along the way, some very funny scenes are showcased. In one scene, because it was falsely cooked up on her resume that she knows Mandarin, she is asked to translate for a wealthy Chinese businessman that is meeting with the owner and executives of the company. Maya takes a crash course in Mandarin and does pretty well, but she is also listening to her friend, a veterinarian, who is giving her helpful hints in conversing with the businessman (via Maya’s use of an earpiece). All of this takes place while the meeting is underway. However, when the vet gets sidetracked in caring for a dog, some of what he says ends up in the conversation—and it’s hilarious. When the Chinese businessman asks about one of the executives on Maya’s team, who is a snob, Maya tells him he is in a bad mood because he hasn’t had his rear milked in a long time.The breakdown in communication between the vet and Maya results in the Chinese businessman’s hilarious reaction and, consequently, his uncontrollable burst of laughter is priceless.
Other comedic scenes are featured, including one in which some doves are used to wow company executives at an outside presentation. But when the doves fly into an oncoming truck, the flying feathers give the “wow moment” an entirely different zing. The movie demonstrates the importance of being honest and taking responsibilities for one’s decisions, virtuous character traits for sure. However, the use of strong language, sexual innuendos and comments prevents us from awarding our Dove Seal to the movie.
The Dove Take
This movie seems to have its heart in the right place but its crudity takes away from its important messages and themes.