Film Review: “Second Act” (2018) ★★★

Once a fellow film critic told me, “The most dangerous thing is to expect to like the film you’re about to watch. Your job is to criticize, not to like it.” Those words stuck in my mind, and no matter how hard I try, I am not able to get rid of it. Because there is nothing better than putting yourself into the shoes of characters you follow throughout a movie; there’s nothing bad about giving a chance to the movie and let it work out. And if at some point we do not like it, that’s fine. We can come up with some decent explanation, write a negative review, and leave it behind us. And after seeing “Second Act”, I could not be happier to disregard all the advice I’ve got to not watch it and I gave it a chance which it truly, trust me on that, deserved.

Maya (Jennifer Lopez) works in a local store as a consultant. She is incredibly good at sales. She knows what the customers want, the product they need, and more importantly how to present it. It seems that all the ideas she has inside her head can’t be executed as the recent promotion she expected to get does not happen. As life seems to have no intention to surprise her, her best friend Joan (Leah Remini) does it otherwise by applying to a big company without Maya’s knowledge. The profile created for her fake persona is stunning – she gets a dream job by lying about who she really is. But in reality, Maya realizes she would not be where she is right now if not for the lie she continued telling – the lie that will show the world what she is really capable of.

“Second Act” has an excellent point which I could not ignore. And mostly one of the reasons that made me write about it. Of course, the film itself is not award-worthy and it would be naïve of me to expect otherwise. But what this film does, and this is where I want my review to concentrate on mainly, is its important concept which I had no right to keep in the dark. For instance, we know that Maya had no education. She gave up her daughter for adoption when she was seventeen. She is smart, creative, and had lots of energy to invest in improving a line of product for F&C, a company she was hired to work for.

But the most important question I am going to ask you is that would Jennifer Lopez’s Maya get that opportunity to realize her potential in a company she would not even dream of if not for a small push? Without a lie which I would prefer to define as the white kind? As the story will unfold, there is a lot for you to learn, for example how Maya was able to pull off such an impressive stunt. However, what she had in her head, all the knowledge and vision in products helped her to succeed. When the movie started, she was denied her promotion due to a lack of education, the same lack of education that did not stop her from achieving improbable results.

“Second Act” is written by Justin Zachham and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, and directed by Peter Segal who delivers an absolutely joyful ride. It’s funny, some sentimental scenes are handled really well, and avoids misuse of an important subject matter that should be told in such a heartwarming way. The film does not try to justify the lie nor shows it as the only way to achieve something big. It also does not undermine education but makes a strong point that if you give enough money and support to those who are capable, they can achieve much more than those who were born in a privileged family. It’s about not giving up a dream, working hard, and aiming to reach the highest standards by doing the right thing.

In the end, this film earns some respect by sending a strong message to the world – if you by any chance end up at a grocery store, do not act like you own the world. The person who serves you today might be the one who you will serve tomorrow as your future CEO. Because everyone is gifted, we all have talents. Some more, some less. That said, we all can get hundred of diplomas, but does it really prove anything? Can those diplomas work on our behalf if some of us do not? Should any individual be denied a once in a lifetime opportunity just because they have no paper to show their qualification despite being capable otherwise?

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