It’s been four years since Jennifer Lopez last appeared in a motion picture, taking time off to start a family. While it is nice to see the singer/actress back in front of the camera, Lopez could have chosen a better comeback project than “The Back-up Plan.” Despite her best efforts, this romantic comedy is pretty dreadful, with a silly sitcom-like plot that even Lopez can’t overcome.

Lopez plays Zoe, a woman who decides she’s ready to start a family even though she hasn’t found Mr. Right. Zoe is artificially inseminated and, as movie fate would have it, happens to meet her dream guy, Stan (played by Alex O’Loughlin), on the same day as her procedure.

The romance quickly blossoms, but when Zoe realizes she’s pregnant it complicates the relationship. Zoe and Stan are left to re-evaluate whether they are indeed meant for each other.

I can’t say enough how much I appreciated Lopez in “The Back-up Plan.” She tries really hard to make the film likable - going all-in on the film’s slapstick humor.

Lopez looks great, but I think her comedic talent was better utilized when she hosted “Saturday Night Live” earlier this year. At least there she had better material and some chemistry with the cast. Unfortunately, this screenplay relies way too much on bodily function humor and Lopez and O’Loughlin (who may be the most bland leading man in a romantic comedy in recent memory) never quite connect.

The supporting cast also includes former “SNL” alum Michaela Watkins (who comes off pretty awkward), Anthony Anderson (whose character seems to have been wedged in to give Stan someone to vent to), and a pair of TV veterans, Linda Lavin and Tom Bosley (whose mere presence elicited more of a smile from me than most of the film’s attempts at humor).

If the script had been a little better, maybe “The Back-up Plan” could have worked. But it pales in comparison to “Knocked Up” and “Baby Mama” - recent films that covered the same subject matter, but were much funnier - making it a film that will likely be forgotten when the summer season gets going next week.

Also in theaters

There may not have been many laughs in “The Back-up Plan,” but that isn’t the case with “Chloe” (D+) - which makes its debut in Bowling Green this weekend after a limited opening last month.

I found myself laughing quite a bit at this film, which stars Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried. Unfortunately, this is supposed to be an erotic thriller, so my laughter was probably not what director Atom Egoyan had in mind.

Moore and Neeson star as wealthy Toronto couple Catherine and David Stewart. When Catherine suspects that David is cheating on her, she hires an escort named Chloe (Seyfried) to seduce her husband.

The one-time encounter becomes more, with Chloe returning with increasingly graphic stories about her meetings with David, which lead to unforeseen events that put everyone in danger.

There is a lot of talent both in front of and behind the camera and for a while they bring a bit of credibility to “Chloe.”

Moore and Neeson are credible and Seyfried manages to hold her own with the two leads, creating an interesting dynamic that could have worked in a better film.

But even the leads can’t overcome an absurd plot turn in the second half, as the film spirals into territory usually reserved for the 1 a.m. time slot on Cinemax.

By the time “Chloe” gets to a “Fatal Attraction”-like finale, the film is in rather creepy and silly territory that made me wish I would have just skipped the whole thing and rented some of the cast’s previous (and much better) work.

“Chloe” is rated R for strong sexual content including graphic dialogue, nudity, and language and opens Friday at the Greenwood Mall 10.

— To get sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton’s up-to-the minute thoughts on all things movies, visit his blog at mcompton.wordpress.com or his Twitter page at twitter.com/mcompton428. You can also e-mail him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.

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