- Jennifer Green
Though documentaries like this are intended to be flattering, the most absorbing of the breed, this one included, also reveal fresh sides to their subjects and new information for viewers. That's no easy task with some celebrities, like J. Lo, who've been in the public eye for decades.
Halftime reviews her long career adeptly by weaving past and present together in a single, overarching narrative. The story isn't just Jenny from the Block; the documentary attempts to craft the image of a survivor who's persisted and arrived at a newfound maturity as a person and a performer.
It blends media clips from her career with interviews and tape from her then-non-stop rehearsal schedule. It also weaves Trump-era news footage together with the background of her own Puerto Rican family's struggle to make it in America.
Capitalizing on a major year of professional accomplishments and timed with the star's 50th birthday, the film promotes Lopez' endurance as a Latina role model despite a longstanding critical devaluation of her work as a performer, and it ties it all together with the contemporary political moment.
"I'm not into politics," Lopez says, then notes that the Trump-era anti-immigrant climate changed all that. She even insists on infusing her Super Bowl halftime show with political messages. The film's final section is the bow on top: she sings "This Land Is Your Land" symbolically at the Biden-Harris inauguration, and end credits detail her non-profit work and the dollar figure actuality of her brand.
Of course, plenty is left out, and it would be particularly fascinating to hear and see Shakira's side of that halftime performance story. But the end result is an uplifting tale about, as one companion calls her, "a woman of color who had the audacity to pursue her dreams."
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.
Images courtesy of Netflix.