J-Lo’s fairytale musical is a work of heartfelt madness

This is Me…Now is a narratively-driven, musically-slanted film depicting Jennifer Lopez’s path of self-healing and unwavering faith in fairytale endings. It’s very heartfelt. It’s complete madness. And it won Liam Maguren over.

Arriving shortly after formulaic music biopic Bob Marley: One Love and below-generic Marvel film Madame Web, Jennifer Lopez kicks down the door and belts out a wild, based-on-her-love-life album movie with superhero ambitions—and it’s likely to prove far more memorable than those other two titles.

This is Me…Now opens with an ancient Puerto Rican romance tale of Gods and legends, to which Lopez’s face has been superimposed over one of the lead characters. In a staggering switch not dissimilar to the legendary jump cut in 2001: A Space Odyssey, we’re then presented sci-fi mechanic Lopez and her co-workers dancing to the beat of a giant exploding robo-heart. We’re barely past a minute when biker Lopez appears riding with a nameless fella in a shiny CGI landscape while a remarkably unhinged news anchor played by Ben Affleck in a set of false teeth declares Love Is Dead!

This is not planet Earth. This is the J-Lo dimension. And you are not prepared for this work of heartfelt madness.

When the film calms down, it’s able to indulge us with scenes vaguely resembling real life. In that world, Fat Joe is a therapist, counselling Lopez’s movie avatar known as Artist about her failed relationships and inability to find True Love™. Suffice to say, Artist’s love life aligns pretty closely to Lopez’s, though the film’s brief running time (just shy of an hour) means it chooses to focus on the feelings rather than the details.

That’s the key difference between This is Me…Now and, say, 2019’s Cats. They’re both spectacularly strange and CGI’ed beyond comprehensible reality, but while director Tom Hooper’s objective was clearly to create another Oscar-level prestige production (backfiring hilariously into weirdo cult status), actor and co-writer Lopez’s intent is to pump up her emotions past the sky and into the galaxy. It’s brash and ludicrous, but also daring and uncompromising. Heart on her sleeve. Subtlety in the bin.

As such, there’s a potent blend of the pure and preposterous. One musical number depicts Artist bungee-tied to her drunk boyfriend as they express the abusive relationship through dance within a glass house. It’s on the nose like a pair of sunnies, but there’s no denying its effectiveness as a metaphor. It also makes for a visually grabbing platform for the pair’s admirable performance.

To say more at this stage risks spoiling too much, but perhaps it’s worth mentioning that Neil DeGrasse Tyson plays the star-sign Taurus—if not to hint at the wealth of cameos at play here, then definitely to display the film’s much-needed sense of self-awareness. You don’t get a renowned man of science to play an astrological god without knowing that your material is maybe just a little bit batshit insane.

But that’s what makes This is Me…Now unusually compelling. It partially knows its silly, but it also feels 100% genuine. It’s difficult to know if Artist’s attendance at a Love Addicts Anonymous meeting is an act of self-parody on Lopez’s part or if the film’s trying to make an case that loving too much is akin to being a victim of the opioid crisis, but both signs point to the same hilariously entertaining and absurd proposition.

At one stage, I genuinely wondered if Artist was going to be told, as per Fat Joe’s counsel, that she should make a big, expensive movie to work out her insecurities. It never happens, but it wouldn’t feel out of place for a film that feels like a primal scream into a garden of roses. Lopez really throws her entire self at this thing, and as cheesy and cuckoo bananas as it all is, it’s hard not to admire her complete dedication towards this strange creation. By the end, I wanted to be one of her supportive friends in the film, which she names The Friends.