Back-Up Plan, The

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Short takes

Not recommended under 15; parental guidance to 15 (themes, sexual references, coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Back-Up Plan, The
  • a review of Back-Up Plan, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 May 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to themes, sexual references and coarse language.
Children aged 15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, sexual references and coarse language.
Children over the age of 15 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Back-Up Plan, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes, sexual references and infrequent coarse language
Length: 104 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

After years of dating the wrong men all Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) can hear is her biological clock ticking away. Scared of waking up one day as an old woman without any family, she takes matters into her own hands and decides to have a baby on her own. Against the better judgement of her closest friend Mona (Michaela Watkins), Zoe visits a sperm bank and is artificially inseminated. That very day meets the man of her dreams, a farmer and cheese producer named Stan (Alex O’Loughlin). 

Unsure exactly where their relationship is headed and believing that Stan is going to leave her (just like her father did after her mother died), Zoe joins a single parent’s support group. There she meets an assortment of unusual characters from a mother breastfeeding her four year old to a lesbian couple with very alternative views. As Zoe comes to terms with the fact that she is expecting twins, Stan tries to come to terms with his role in their relationship. Although they experience some serious setbacks they eventually find their way to a promising compromise at the most unexpected time.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Artificial insemination; pregnancy; loss of a parent; lesbian relationships

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence and accidental harm in this movie including:

  • Zoe is grabbed by a woman in labour and is unable to escape from her vice-like grip.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Zoe suffers from morning sickness and vomits
  • A woman gives birth in a pool while her partner pounds a drum, with an unusual tribal beat, in the background. The baby’s head is shown emerging as the woman writhes and screams in pain.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes and also by the idea of artificial insemination.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the idea of artificial insemination.

Product placement

None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Zoe apologises for not doing her toenails. The gynaecologist says that he is not looking at her toes, he is looking at her cervix.
  • Mona, trying to talk Zoe out of going through with her plans to have a baby asks her if she wants to see her vagina. She goes on to tell her that: “I’ve had four kids. I’ll show you my vagina.”
  • Seeing how uncomfortable Stan is with the word vagina the gynaecologist repeatedly works the word into the conversation saying: “Vagina, vagina, vagina.”
  • Stan is telling a friend that he has been replaced by Zoe’s body pillow. Stan says, “Screw the pillow.” His friend answers: “You might have to.”
  • Stan’s friend says that he misses having “buck naked Fridays” with his wife, a ritual they used to enjoy before they had kids.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Stan is riding a tractor without his shirt on and Zoe is so distracted she drives into a tree.
  • Zoe and Stan make love in his cheese cellar. She has an orgasm on the small table they lean against before they move onto the floor. Stan comments on her multiple orgasms while they lie in each other’s arms.
  • Zoe is looking at her bottom in the mirror while wearing a g-string.
  • Zoe, wearing a negligee, and a bare chested Stan cuddle up in bed.
  • A woman gives birth in a wading pool. She wears a top, but is bare from the waist down and the baby’s head can be seen emerging.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Zoe’s grandmother brings over a bottle of champagne which is quickly opened and consumed.
  • Guests drink at a wedding.
  • Stan proposes to Zoe in a bar and people are drinking and toasting the happy couple.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • There is frequent use of the terms “Shit” “Holy shit”, occasional use of the words “Bitch” and “ass” and one instance of the word “fucking.”

In a nutshell

The Back-Up Plan is a romantic comedy that deals with serious issues. The film features believable performances but, due to its themes and content, is not suitable for younger audiences.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • believe in yourself
  • make plans for your life but be prepared for change
  • always make time in your life and room in your heart for love

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • trusting in others
  • loyalty
  • responsibility

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • The long term affects of a child losing a parent
  • Fear of commitment
  • Artificial insemination