J. Lo and Behold: Is She for Real?

Nobody who winds up at a “what’s the strangest moment in this new J. Lo thingy” contest should worry. There are no wrong answers.

The parts in which Fat Joe plays Dr. Melfi to Jennifer Lopez’s Tony Soprano bewilder as intensely as the too-many scenes in which Jane Fonda, Trevor Noah, Keke Palmer, Post Malone, Kim Petras and Neil deGrasse Tyson (to pick merely six of a dozen names) bickeringly represent the astrological signs. None of these people appears to have been on the set at the same time. The only performers persuasively sharing the screen are Jenifer Lewis and Jenifer Lewis, and that’s only because she’s doing Gemini.

A number about a quickie wedding is called “Midnight Trip to Vegas,” but the groom has already hand-delivered Lopez’s invitation. It’s “Midnight Trip to Vegas,” but first with a stop at what could be Westeros or Themyscira or “The Cell.” Least forgettable is the sight of our star, in a tank top and up to her neck in elbow warmers, riding a wrecking ball to squelch a power-plant disaster.

Lopez has titled these 53 minutes (and an additional 10-minute-plus credits sequence) “This Is Me … Now: A Love Story.” She’s released it, on Amazon, alongside an album of new songs, a few of which provide grist for the visual component. The album is a so-so buffet of sounds that get called contemporary or urban: music that could have been produced at any point in the last 25 years, which isn’t the same as calling it timeless. Lopez has been never on any sort of cutting edge. She’s often where music just was; and that can leave her stranded the way she is here.

For “This Is Me … Now: A Love Story,” she gives “just was” both frenetic cinematic accompaniment and her physical all. In addition to directing and cowriting, Lopez goes out on a limb and takes the role of what can rightly be called “Me,” a husband-hunter jailed in such metaphorical music-video scenarios as “glass house” and “love factory.” In that second one, she and two dozen coveralled co-workers bang out some electrocuted, hydraulic choreography while the operation’s giant, once-malfunctioning heart sputters back to life and spews radioactive positivity. These are the only vaguely satisfying numbers. If the wishy-washy, parable-making and haywire everything else won’t cohere into true beauty or credible horror, then camp it is. Ladies and gentlemen: Jennifer Lopez and her Oppenheimer Dancers!

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