Movie Review: Second Act

Movie Review: Second Act

Taylor West, Assistant Editor

Everyone loves empowering movies.

Whether it be women, social, or even educational empowerment, movies that highlight this leave its viewers full and ready to take on the world.

Over the weekend, I got the opportunity to see a very empowering movie two months before it’s released to movie theaters. Second Act follows the life of 40-year-old Maya whose lack of education has landed her in a position at a low-end store, as she is seemingly stuck in a rut with life. Though after her best friend’s son gives her resume a facelift — forging Harvard-level degrees in light of her GED — Maya unbelievably gets a job at Franklin and Clark and must prove that her street smarts are just as valuable as book smarts.

Maya is portrayed as the kind of women who has worked endlessly just to get to where she’s at. A foster care child who was out on her own by 16, Maya is a flawless outline of the “supermom” character without actually having kids.

It’s easy to like her right from the beginning, her character being written as so. While the movie starts immediately off with Maya stuck in a rock and a hard place at a small convenience store, her character has put a positive spin on her difficult situation. Maya’s surrounded by her inventive ideas to help the dead-end store become more relevant in society.

It’s a shot to the heart for both Maya and the audience rooting for her already when she’s denied a corporate position. And to put the cherry on top, the position she’d applied for — and very much deserved — was given to a man because of his degree. At first it’s frustrating for the audience to see this women denied a job just because she didn’t have the money to attend college; but it also helps us see the importance of getting a degree as well as the reality of how the job market works today.

Later on in the story she gets a high end job at Franklin and Clark after someone forges her resume. While we are happy that she finally gets the recognition that Maya deserves, moments after getting the job she goes to tell her boyfriend of five years the good news — and he dumps her.

Now, everyone is left heartbroken and upset, because the guy seemed like a good guy, but both Maya and the audience doesn’t get the chance to truly be affected by the break up. The storyline moves much too quickly for Maya to grieve, and the breakup happens so early on that the audience has nothing to be upset about. Their relationship was developed within the first 10 minutes, then cut completely for a reason the audience doesn’t find out about until the end. There was no time to grow emotionally attached to the boyfriend as there was Maya, and for that reason the rest of the movie was off.

A woman’s life doesn’t revolve around a man, and the movie says just that. But Maya’s main conflict is not an external battle with a man constantly putting her down, as the story often led its viewers, but rather an internal conflict of simply not having a degree to get the job honestly. The whole movie kept me wondering — what happened to the boyfriend? And why hasn’t she grieved him? With a million unfinished, poorly developed subplots, it makes the movie extremely difficult to follow and focus on.

Overall, Second Act was not a bad movie. It had a good mixture of humor and heartwarming moments. It was empowering for those who don’t have the best education, and conveys a good message that having a degree shouldn’t dictate whether or not someone is qualified for a job. Though the writers did not take the movie to its full potential and that can always be pretty disappointing for any viewer.