Directed By: Amanda McKelly
Where I Watched It: Netflix
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
I thought about sitting down and writing a serious review of Halftime, but halftime isn’t really deserving of the full service. Who is this movie for? Jennifer Lopez fans. That’s really all this is. It seems to want you to believe it is more than just a cute fan documentary, but it’s not. There are three films thrown in here together, trying to masquerade as one complete film, but they are three ideas that work very differently as different films.
There’s the one film that Netflix is trying to sell you, a documentary about Jennifer Lopez producing her halftime show at the Super Bowl that she shared with Shakira. There’s the whole lead into it about how the NFL is trying to be less racist, hiring Jay Z to help them be less racist, and then hiring two latinas (as if one of them wasn’t enough of a draw on their own). Later, we get some talk about how to put together this production, some choreo, and even the final actual halftime show. That’s documentary one.
Two is about Jennifer Lopez trying to be taken seriously as an actress by starring in Hustlers. it tracks her progress, talking about how making this movie was so different for her, how the stripping scenes were so different for her, and we see all the hype about her performance, and how she got her Golden Globe nomination. Then she won an award, lost the Globe, won the LA Film Critics Circle (which she attended), and wasn’t nnominated for an Oscar.
The third film is about Jenny From The Block. She goes all the way back to her childhood, how she left home at 18, became a fly girl, became Selena, had a tough time marketing herself as an actress and a singer when everyone just saw a dancer, became successful and faced attacks because she was a rising star of Latinx heritage. There’s even a mini documentary short concept in here about Lopez empowering other Latinas through her charity to chase their dreams.
What’s not in here? Whatever Jennifer doesn’t want you to know. She obviously doesn’t want to talk about her relationships. She barely talks about the struggle, limiting it to mostly having a tough childhood, and being taken seriously. This is not a heavy hitting documentary. I know this has a director, but it might as well jsut have been Jennifer Lopez, because she’s so obviously controlling the narrative here. There’s no way she didn’t have final cut. If she didn’t want it in the film, it wasn’t in the film.
Does this mean it’s bad? No. I was fairly entertained by this fluffy piece of idolatry. But that’s really all it is. It’s made for hardcore Lopez fans who don’t care that this documentary is directionless, and likely won’t tell them much, if anything, they don’t already know. But for the lucky ones, maybe it’ll just cheer you up.
Jennifer is right. She is an underrated actress, and has been for quite some time. her dream of being taken seriously is something she’s been chasing for a while, long before Hustlers. You can see it in her TV show Shades of Blue, you can see it in a performance like Enough, or in the classic Out of Sight. She’s more than just a romcom Queen. She’s an actress, but seems to always get shoved side. I’m not sure this will change any of that. That just comes with picking and being offered more serious roles.
The Blind Perspective: The most profound need in this documentary for the audio description was the choreography. I appreciated the narration around the dancing, like a failed lift that J.Lo and a backup dancer tried and had to try again. Also, that green dress is iconic. Knowing it was there, and the film took a few minutes to talk about it and feature it was brilliant, and the description of the dress was spot on. I can’t quite explain to someone who has been blind their whole life what that dress means, but it’s almost as iconic as Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from that shot on the street where she’s on top of a vent. It’s the most iconic thing Lopez has ever worn, that’s for sure.
Final Thoughts: Jennifer Lopez fans will find more in this than others. Like, a football fan looking for a documentary about the halftime show will likely not enjoy this. It goes far too much away from that original idea. I’d recommend it, but then again, I like Jenny From The Block.
Final Grade: B-