J-Lo’s new album-film is the perfect love letter … to J-Lo

You can never accuse Jennifer Lopez of being a minimalist.

This Friday, the multi-hyphenate entertainer released “This Is Me … Now: A Love Story,” a sweeping project that is both a studio album (her ninth) and an hour-long musical film. And if that weren’t enough J-Lo for you, there is an accompanying behind-the-scenes documentary, “The Greatest Love Story Never Told,” on Feb. 27. (Both film projects are streaming on Prime Video; Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

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While Lopez has hinted that this album may be her last, most of the buzz has centered around the film portion of “This Is Me,” a $20 million vanity project that Lopez funded herself. As Lopez told Variety in a recent profile, just about everyone in her circle was skeptical of the film. And that’s understandable: It’s a loosely biographical musical mishmash of fables, dreams, interventions, and a nosy but well-meaning “Zodiac Counsel,” helmed by Jane Fonda, KeKe Palmer, Post Malone and Neil deGrasse Tyson, among others.

“Everybody thought I was crazy,” Lopez said.

“This Is Me … Now” may not win a Grammy or an Oscar (robbery!), but it will certainly take home the trophy for the The Most J-Lo Thing J-Lo Has Ever Done. She sings, she dances, she channels all of her rom-com superpowers — she even raps. It is her Magnum Lopez. And whether you love her or hate her or just enjoy ruminating on the Jennifer Lopez Wedding Industrial Complex, there’s something for you here. Grab your astrological chart and snack of choice (may I recommend gummies?) and try not to think too deeply as we traverse the highs and lows of J-Lo’s love life (Note: Spoilers ahead!).

J-Lo as Fable

The foundation of this movie is a Taino legend about the origin of the hummingbird — a tale that Lopez narrates for us at the film’s start. This is the story of Alida and Taroo, we’re told. They are two pre-colonial hotties from warring tribes — “star-crossed lovers,” Lopez says. Alida is the spitting image of Lopez. Taroo, thankfully, does not look like Ben Affleck.

“They tried to hide their romance, but their love shined too bright,” Lopez says. Their communities won’t let them be together, so Alida pleads to the gods to turn her into a delicate red flower. They do that. Taroo is quite sad about this, so he pleads to the gods too, and the gods are like, fine, we’ll make you a hummingbird. And so Taroo the hummingbird flits and flies across the land, forever looking for his J-Lo, I mean, Alida.

J-Lo as Inexplicably Hot Factory Worker

The first big Lopez set piece takes place in a dark, dirty factory. All the workers are women with industrial-chic lunchboxes and jumpsuits. J-Lo is wearing a tank top and what can best be described as socks for your elbows. Suddenly, there’s an emergency at the factory! They have run out of roses to make their red petal hearts from. (It is a heart factory. We know this because there’s a sign that says “heart factory.”) Everybody’s freaking out except Lopez, who bursts into song. “It ain’t all hearts and flowers,” Lopez sings. The song’s name is “Hearts and Flowers.”

There’s also: dancing on the factory conveyor belt, dancing on a muddy factory floor, lots and lots of people pulling on levers and ropes, J-Lo swinging from a wrecking ball, and J-Lo rapping. Despite the factory maybe being on the verge of exploding, the dancing is great. Everyone looks great.

But sadly, it was all just a dream.

Ben Affleck as the Tucker Carlson of Love

His name is Rex Stone, and nothing grinds his gears like the lack of love in this world. Stone is a cable news anchorman with the same urgent, “everything good is dead” delivery perfected by the likes of Carlson, Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck. But he’s not some partisan talking head. This man with a bad wig and Southern-ish accent just wants to know where the love in the world has gone, as evidenced by a red chyron reading: “WHERE’S THE LOVE?” Lopez appears to be a fan of the show — when we’re in her home(s), it’s almost always on in the background — but she never actually watches it. Is that a metaphor?

J-Lo as Freud

Much of our hero’s journey is structured around her weekly counseling sessions with Fat Joe. We learn that Therapist Joe is a Taurus who has seemingly endless patience for Lopez dissecting her vivid, bonkers dreams. After all, Lopez is a lover and a dreamer, though occasionally it seems like she’s an insomniac, too. Therapist Joe also, quite helpfully, keeps a running track of the astrological signs of all the men Lopez has been in relationships with (he even does couples therapy with them!). At one point, he refers Lopez to “Love Addicts Anonymous,” which we discover is a lot like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, except with a lot more contemporary dancing.

Everybody else as the Zodiacal Council

The Zodiacal Council is the star-studded Greek chorus of “This Is Me.” They are all-seeing and deeply invested in Lopez’s love life. They are the living embodiments of the 12 Western zodiac signs: Jane Fonda is Sagittarius, KeKe Palmer is Scorpio, Post Malone is Leo, Sofia Vergara is ditsy Pisces and the impossibly affable Trevor Noah is Libra. (Yes, each actor is playing their own signs.) Neil deGrasse Tyson, who plays Taurus, calls it the “zo-DYE-acal” council, which coincidentally rhymes with “maniacal.” We also have an underutilized Jenifer Lewis, which is strange since there’s actually two of her — she plays Gemini.

They mostly just gossip about Lopez and her lover boys. Seriously, people, this is why you need agendas for meetings.

“She’s smart, she’s beautiful, and she seems so strong. Why does she always need to be with somebody?” Fonda ponders. (Lopez co-wrote the movie.)

J-Lo as Barbra Streisand Fan

At one point, after “10 years and three marriages,” we find a heartbroken Lopez, laying in a long, luxe green robe on her very big couch in her very big home, watching “The Way We Were” alone. She’s seamlessly mouthing all of Barbra Streisand’s dialogue as Babs pleads with Robert Redford to give their romance a chance. It’s quiet and endearing, and I would probably enjoy an entire movie of J-Lo doing this, though it’s probably best not to tell her.

J-Lo as Inner Child

Our girl Jenny is down bad, y’all. She’s dated or married a Libra, Virgo, Cancer and Pisces — but they all sucked. Is there no romantic love in the zo-DYE-ac for Lopez? It’s time for J-Lo to dissect her dreams again.

This time, she’s back in the Bronx, baby! She runs into her old friends, who are all still wearing their ’80s gear. Her first crush Louis is there, who rudely tells her that “flowers don’t grow in the Bronx.” Lopez isn’t trying to hear all that, so she keeps walking. Why is the Bronx so empty? She spots a bouquet of red roses at a botanica — “like the hummingbird story?” asks Therapist Joe. No, that’s a different metaphor, dummy. “Like in the factory dream,” J-Lo corrects him. Anyway, back to the dream.

She’s being followed by someone. Wait, it’s Little J-Lo! She is about 8 or 9, and she is looking rough. Why does she look so busted? “I didn’t get enough love,” Little J-Lo explains. From her parents? Nope. “From you,” little J-Lo tells big J-Lo. “You left me alone.”

J-Lo pleads with her inner child. She does love Little J-Lo, she does! Her apology segues us into J-Lo’s triumphant title track. “Took some lefts, now we’re right here where we are. And I sing, ‘This is me now!’” The song is called “This Is Me Now,” and Lopez sing-screams it along with Little J-Lo. Self-love, we’ve arrived!

J-Lo as Bad Wedding Guest

One of Lopez’s friends in the film — and the one that gets the most speaking lines — is Mike, who is a capital-C cynic. We know this because he says snarky things in a vaguely British accent (Brit-ish?). His main job for most of the film is to casually dismiss all of Lopez’s lovers du jour. That is until she finally breaks down, at which point Cynic Mike decides it’s a good idea to invite J-Lo to his wedding. “I hate weddings,” Lopez pouts at her next therapy session.

Possibly as payback, when Lopez arrives at his wedding she looks absolutely resplendent in a bronze sequined gown with feathered wizard sleeves. Everyone looks great, but Lopez looks so much greater than everyone else it hardly seems fair.

J-Lo as a Person Who Is Definitely Not Taking the Bus

After her big breakthrough therapy session, Therapist Joe (is he taking new patients?) offers to drive her home because it’s raining. No, Lopez tells him, she might take the bus. She likes the rain, she says — “magical things happen.” To which I say, J-Lo?!?! ON A BUS!?!

She steps outside, and sure enough, it’s pouring. But lo and behold, at the bus stop, Lopez spots a beautiful hummingbird in the rain. A sign! The bird hovers in front of her as if it were sizing up a flower.

Cue a Gene Kelly “Singin’ in the Rain” tribute. I want an alert the next time J-Lo is dancing alone on an impossibly deserted city street — she can put on a show!

“I’m your hummingbird, baby, open your eyes,” Lopez sings. Wait, she’s the hummingbird in this story? I thought she was the flower? Does any of it matter? Anyway, the song is called “Hummingbird.”

J-Lo does not take the bus.

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