The title of the Jennifer Lopez documentary "Halftime" is not just a reference to the global superstar's performance at halftime of the Super Bowl in 2020. It's also meant as a nod to J. Lo's 50th birthday just months before, and perhaps the midpoint of the actress, pop singer and mega-celebrity's time on this planet.
"Halftime" doesn't quite give J. Lo the warts-and-all treatment; it's a tightly managed portrait of Lopez's life, career and unstoppable hustle, and there are no telling small moments that are going to threaten her carefully controlled image. Yet it's a fascinating look at Lopez, her drive and her desire to overcome any and all obstacles in her path.
Directed by Amanda Micheli, "Halftime" opens in July 2019 and largely unspools in the leadup to Lopez's performance with Shakira at Super Bowl LIV, just a few weeks before COVID-19 shut down the world. That period coincided with Hollywood's awards season, when Lopez was in the Oscar conversation for her role as a headstrong exotic dancer in "Hustlers." (The Academy Awards nomination ultimately didn't come, which deals a bit of a narrative blow to the documentary.)
"Hustlers" was notable because, unlike many of Lopez's film roles, it played to her strengths as a boss, a decision maker, who goes after and gets what she wants. That is the Lopez on display here, especially as she openly expresses her disappointment with having to share the stage at the Super Bowl and fights with the NFL over her vision for her performance, which included nods to her Puerto Rican heritage and protests over America's immigration policies.
In these scenes, as well as in footage that shows her in rehearsal with her dancers, Lopez is strong-willed, determined and completely in control. That control is a byproduct of her scrappy upbringing in the Bronx, where she was one of three children and couldn't be "the singer" or "the smart one" in her family, since those titles were already taken by her two sisters.
There's a scene in the doc where Lopez is recounting a text message string with her family where her career accomplishments take a backseat to conversation about the New York Jets. That's about as intimate as things get with her private life, and don't expect any gossip about or insight into her world at home or her romantic exploits. (Ben Affleck appears on camera, albeit briefly.)
But "Halftime" is still an inspirational look at someone who has overcome the odds and continues to fight to be taken seriously and to have her voice be heard. To hear her tell it, she's still just starting out. As "Halftime" proves, you should doubt her at your own peril.
Not rated (language may be unsuitable for children)
Running time: 1:36
How to watch: Netflix
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