If you are a JLo fan or a rom-com fan, you are counting the hours to Friday, December 21, when Peter Segal’s new movie ‘Second Act’ releases. Striking a perfect balance of drama and comedy, the movie would mark the return of Jennifer Lopez to the big screen. Milo Ventimiglia, the dream boat dad from ‘This is Us’ and Lopez’s real-life best friend Leah Remini star in the movie as well, along with the multi-talented Vanessa Hudgens.
Ironically enough, the movie is about a Latin-American woman Maya Vargas, who gets a second chance at life, following a mix-up with her CV that gives her a fair shot at finding her footing in the corporate world. It is a theme that most of us can relate to, having made wrong choices, or having been denied certain opportunities in life, we wish to redo, and Segal believes, in that lies the movie’s success.
“While we were doing a comedy, what was more important to me in this kind of story was a theme. Having a movie speak to an audience I think is more important today given that fewer people are going the movies as ticket prices are higher. So, if you can tap into something that people feel akin to, and can speak to them, then I think that the movie will resonate on a different level,” he says, adding he wanted to make sure that the core themes of the movies are explored - having a second chance in life, not being given the opportunities that other people may have had, and how to succeed in spite of that, how do we live in the shadow of a loss and turn it into a positive thing that we can benefit from later?
"These were all the kinds of themes that I wanted to make sure that we underlined in our story-telling and didn't take too lightly in the pursuit of making people laugh. It was a delicate balance between the more sensitive scenes of the movie and the more comedic scenes. But, those kinds of tonal challenges are exciting to me. Being able to balance the drama and the comedy in the same story,” explains Segal.
Having done a handful of rom-coms, mostly from the male perspective, starring frequent collaborator Adam Sandler, Segal says it is his movie ‘50 First Dates’ that ‘Second Act’ is most similar to. “What was great about that is working with a wonderful actress like Drew Barrymore because she has a magical quality about her that is infectious on the set and in storytelling,” he says, adding that he drew a “lot of inspiration from my working relationship with her for this movie and I learned a lot about rom-coms obviously from that.”
Rom-com as a genre is really under-served right now, believes Segal, who claims most studios shy away from green-lighting romantic comedies – or any comedies in the lower budget range.
“It seems like the only movies that are getting greenlit are superhero movies or things that are already books or rides at Disneyland or related to the 'Star Wars' or Pixar world.”
STX, the studio behind ‘Second Act,’ however, did not hesitate to put their money on the rom-com. ”I was very fortunate strike a relationship with STX, because they are a very rare studio allowing filmmakers like myself to tell stories in this lower range budget world and stories that really aren't being told anymore.”
We are definitely looking forward to this “low-budget” rom-com as Segal puts it, for many reasons. From JLo’s return to acting to watching Milo romance and charm her, there are many reasons why we are rooting for this film. Come December 21 we will definitely be at the theatres to watch this story unfold.