Saturday, April 20, 2024

J Lo Opus Watch: This Is Me... Now - A Love Story (2024)

Watched:  04/19/2024
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Dave Meyers
Selection:  K

One of the things they'll tell you in some creative writing classes is "write what you know", but they'll also tell you "don't write a story based on your life and just swap the names out, because now people reacting to a story are reacting to you".  JLo did not receive this advice.

So, what happens when a person who has been wildly successful for decades for things she got good at in her mid-20's, and who lives mostly surrounded by sycophants, decides they want to pen a not-at-all disguised analog of their autobiography as a sort of Moonwalker-esque extravaganza?  

There is *a lot* going on in This is Me... Now (2024), the sort-of-film/ musical video montage/ visual media spectacle which is 100% the creative product of Jennifer Lopez and everything that suggests.

Spoilers:  It will not make you walk away thinking "wow, she's a humble, grounded person" in any way.  And not even really in the fun way that you watch Mariah Carey passing through this plane.  But the thing is absolutely, mind-bogglingly engaging.  You simply cannot believe this thing exists, and with all the resources (her own money!) spent on it, that this is what JLo decided to do.

And I cannot recommend it enough.

The movie is really a multimedia tie-in to the latest Lopez album, and I can salute that.  We need more killer, expensive music videos.  But as a narrative?

To give you an idea of the thinking that surrounds this movie, JLo's character, JLo, says "I had this dream last night" and another character eagerly says "tell me about it."  This is what you need to know.  JLo lives in a world where you don't have to shoehorn in your story about your dream - people insist they want to know.  Imagine!  What a world.  And that's who is behind every decision in this movie.

In this movie, JLo is the Main Character of the Universe.  She is eternally 28 (Lopez is now 54).  We know this is how old she is, because all of her friends are very, very young people.  People remotely JLo's age are shown as old and haggard.  

Her friends do not have names, they have titles.  The Cynic.  The Fighter.  The Idealist.  These titles fit the characters because they are how they relate to JLo.  They do not exist outside of JLo.  They occupy that weird space you see where you can't figure out how anyone has any money, they aren't famous and don't seem to do anything, but they clearly do have money.  You will be halfway through the movie before you realize they are not manifestations of JLo's inner thoughts, like those colorful goblins in Pixar's Inside Out

But you also have to wonder how many of these "friends" are "employees" who rely on the good graces of JLo and can't really tell her anything?  And does she honestly know the difference in 2024?

By the by, JLo is named "The Artist" in the movie, which... fair enough.  

In a soundbite: The movie is JLo mythologizing her relationship with Ben Affleck.  And it is insane.  I mean, who can't see the magic of their relationship in a fairytale mode?

JLo's knight in shining armor

And while I don't believe for one second that JLo made this to piss off Jennifer Garner, one can only wonder what Garner is thinking while raising Ben's kids, putting food on the table with Capitol One commercials, and being known as "That girl from Alias who is also Ben's ex".  And then F'ing JLo slides in and spends millions and millions of dollars about how their love was written in the stars?  Yowza.

Y'all, I have not even gotten to how JLo FIRST co-opts (or makes up) a myth from Costa Rica about a flower and hummingbirds, and made that myth about JLo.  And now you will see flowers and hummingbirds as SYMBOLS.  Symbols that show up everywhere, whether it makes sense or not.  You will think Dolly Parton's whole pink and butterflies thing is super understated by the time we're done here.

But DO NOT WORRY.  JLo has also decided she needs a pantheon of Gods entirely consumed by her love life.  And these gods are not Costa Rican, because fuck continuity - JLo appears to be (deep sigh) an astrology enthusiast. 

Affleck, seen here channeling what it feels like every minute of the day after you've turned 46

To this end, JLo has recruited 12 celebrities and bedecked them in brassy metal "zodiac" costumes that look like they were lifted from the set of Caligula.  This will enable you to see Jane Fonda, Post Malone, Sophia Vergara, Trevor Noah, Keke Palmer, Neil deGrasse-Fucking-Tyson (and plenty more) having an absolute ball on JLo's dime acting as a chorus and taking occasional action to help her along, like the gods in Clash of the Titans, from which this seems directly lifted.  

Y'all, what I wouldn't have given to see Jane Fonda and Post Malone sharing space at craft services.

Oh, a very trimmed down and healthy looking Fat Joe plays JLo's therapist (The Therapist), demonstrating no acting chops whatsoever.  

And there's a dog sometimes.

The movie is absolutely a visual tour-de-force.  We're treated to well-designed, well-shot sequences with stunning choreography.  There's CGI galore, impeccable art design, expensive locations and sets, and a wide array of hats that JLo just simply does not pull off.

Over about an hour, I think this is what happens in concrete terms:

JLo and her Ben stand-in have a break-up she compares to a deadly motorcycle wreck.  She then marries several guys against the advice of that gaggle of friends.  Then she dates worse guys.  Then she spends like a week by herself, figures out what she really needs to do is somehow pay more attention to herself instead of... string of dudes?  And then, against all hope, Ben comes back into her life just as she's finally ready for love again.  Movie ends.

As was pointed out while we watched this thing, JLo has apparently never become familiar with the idea that if *every* guy you meet/ date is somehow an asshole, maybe the problem isn't everyone else..?  This idea is fought against with all the force of a thousand JLos locking and popping.

But this is also a compilation of music videos for JLo, so this pretty rote story is told in a series of heavily CGI'd sequences with more dancing than you can shake a stick at.  

We start with a heavily AI'd sequence about the flower and hummingbird myth, and I kind of missed what it was about, but it sets the stage for JLo informing us that all she ever wanted since she was a little girl was "to be in love".  Which sounds like a red flag as big as a football field.  

Then the motorcycle wreck.

and naked go we all into the story of one Jennifer "JLo" Lopez

We then get into a Metropolis-looking sequence where an army of dancers in a steampunk factory both tend to the flowers and a giant, faulty, steampunk heart.  You may take from this sequence that Jennifer Lopez will throw an endless number of people at tending to her happiness, caring nothing for their efforts or toil.

Something something glass houses and abusive partners in an environment that looks left over from John Wick 3.  

There's the wedding sequence with too many husbands, and it was at this point I realized I have no idea what Jennifer Lopez's actual romantic history is because I do not care.  But here's a helpful article.  It seems exhausting.

There's a sequence where she goes to group therapy, doesn't let anyone else talk, and everyone is so moved by JLo, the main character, they begin a spontaneous dance.  And then the shrink leading the group tells her, in essence, that he's never heard such a sad story.  You will die inside as this happens on your screen.

I dunno.  There's a whole sequence where she spiritually returns to the Bronx - but not for real because ick - but she does the "I've connected with my inner child and I am therefore healed.  Ta-daaaaa!" thing that movies do, but it doesn't make any sense, because I don't know what she told that little girl or the girl told her that would have helped.  But the sequence definitely happens.

There's a wedding that isn't hers, where she's wearing what looks like a really uncomfortable outfit, and she - for a moment - cares about someone else's happiness, and make them having the wedding about herself by reveling in how it makes her feel.

There's a sequence that is clearly ripping off Singin' In the Rain, but isn't very good?  And seems like the lawyers wouldn't let JLo do any stunts on wet concrete or something.  (There's also reference to other, better films and it breaks the Signal Watch rule of showing a better movie in the movie we're watching with a clip of The Way We Were that we can assume is a JLo favorite).  

And then Ben shows up.  

I dunno.  This thing is wild.  

Ben makes it to the third act

JLo does look fantastic in every frame, and she remains a great dancer.  I've never been a huge fan of her music, but that's okay.  It's not bad, just not my thing.  Overall, really, the dance sequences are worth the price of admission, and you won't be mad at what it looks like, or the hyperbole occurring in every scene.  JLo has some acting chops, and they're put to use here.  She's okay!

You'll also enjoy the fact that Ben is only in the movie under heavy makeup as an obnoxious guy JLo sees on TV.  

No matter what I'd do to describe this thing will not do it justice.  It's currently free on Amazon, and I cannot recommend it enough.  

And here's the thing - Jamie tells me this is the first in a planned trilogy.  Which seems incredibly ballsy of JLo as her romance with Ben is just now hitting her average shelf-life with a romantic partner.  But who knows?  Maybe they'll pull it off.  But it's gonna be super weird if they're cutting the third one and Ben and Jen call it splittsville.  

So dive in while you can and you aren't just plain worried about the both of them and just swim around in the insanity of what it means to still deal with your romantic life like you're in one long, extended high school career despite half-a-century on this rock.

til we meet again for Part Deuce!


RHPT said...

Selection: K

Who is this mysterious "K"?

The League said...

K, first of her name, is an attorney, hiker, iconoclast and wrangler of cats. She is also Jamie's sister-in-law.