Note: This article contains major spoilers about "Second Act."
When 43-year-old Maya Vargas (Jennifer Lopez) gets turned down for a promotion simply because she doesn’t have a college degree, she sets out on a mission to prove the doubters wrong—one that will change her life forever. After she gets a new online identity and a fake resume, Maya lands a high-profile consulting job with Franklin and Clarke, a major cosmetic corporation. With a chance to finally prove herself, she embraces her new identity and tries to find redemption for her past mistakes—both professional and personal.
Though this isn’t a typical pro-life, pro-adoption movie, "Second Act" features a surprisingly powerful pro-life message. Through a conversation between Maya and her best friend, we find out that Maya has a daughter whom she gave up for adoption when she was only 16. Maya searched for years to find her daughter, but to no avail. That is, until she meets Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens), a co-worker at her new job who just happens to be the daughter of Maya’s boss. Through a series of random events, Maya realizes that Zoe is her daughter.
As Maya and Zoey spend time getting to know each other, Zoe asks Maya if she ever thought of getting an abortion. Maya replies, “When I found out I was pregnant, it was never a choice. I knew you had to be born.” Toward the end of the movie, after Zoe and Maya become separated again, Maya writes a letter to Zoe telling her that even with all the mistakes she’s made, there are two decisions she won’t ever regret: “After bringing you into this world, the second best decision I ever made was giving you up.” Maya realizes that by giving up her daughter for adoption, she opened the door for Zoe to find a life of happiness and success.
I can’t help but think that many people in today’s society would have pressured Maya to end Zoe’s life in the womb. As a single, minority, homeless mom, Maya would have seemed like Planned Parenthood’s ideal client. But Maya made the hard decision to choose life, and a beautiful story unfolds as a result. Zoe grows up with loving parents, finds a successful career, pursues her dream of attending a prestigious art school, and eventually reunites with the woman who brought her into the world.
"Second Act" wasn’t billed as a movie about adoption, but in many ways it’s a testament to the power of choosing life. Stories are powerful, and it’s significant for a mainstream audience to see a beautiful pro-life, pro-adoption storyline in a movie like this one. As Americans watch this story play out on the big screens, I hope that hearts will be moved toward choosing life or adopting a child.
At the end of the movie, as Maya reflects on all the mistakes she’s made—and there are plenty—she realizes that what seem like mistakes can turn into something beautiful. Though the filmmakers probably didn’t intend it to be, "Second Act" becomes a poignant reminder of how God can make even the most difficult story into something beautiful. Redemption is never out of reach through God’s mercy and grace. No matter the mistakes we’ve made or the choices that have led us to where we are, it’s never too late for a second act.
Disclaimer: "Second Act"contains some profanity and an uncomfortable amount of crude sexual humor.