Jennifer Lopez is an icon. In “Halftime” she still has something to prove.


 Jennifer Lopez is an icon.  In "Halftime" she still has something to prove.

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The most revealing 20 seconds of Jennifer Lopez’s new Netflix documentary Halftime comes after the footage ends. After a triumphant scene in which Lopez sings at President Biden’s inauguration, the screen goes black and a title card appears.

“To this date, Jennifer Lopez has: sold 80 million records with 15 billion streams; starred in nearly 40 films and grossed $3 billion; amassed more than 350 million social media followers; and generated over $5 billion in consumer sales as a brand,” the documentary reminds audiences after an hour and a half of film that chronicles what is arguably the busiest six months of Lopez’s career, from her starring role in Hustlers to her electrifying Super Bowl Halftime Show.

But none of that is enough. Because it’s never enough when it comes to J-Lo, a woman who somehow still acts as an icon and an outsider 30 years after moving to Hollywood. So the documentary – or should we say, extended backstage pass with the artist’s consent – about the multihyphenate talent can’t end without screaming her stats.

“All my life I’ve fought and fought to be heard and seen and taken seriously,” says Lopez, a non-stop entertainer who celebrated her 50th birthday in 2019 with a 25-city tour.

With a mix of behind-the-scenes videos of the woman hopping from gig to gig (and a brief cameo by her on-again, off-again fiancé Ben Affleck), Halftime isn’t just a movie about the year 2020 Super Bowl gig that should have knocked out all the naysayers. In the documentary’s most revealing moments, the glow of Award Show J-Lo and the sweat of Dance Rehearsal J-Lo give way to an occasional glimpse of the real J-Lo, a woman who swiped asterisks on her record from the start Has .

As the middle child of three girls, Lopez was neither “the smart guy” nor “the singer,” explains the Bronx native. She was “the dancer”. That label stuck with her when she got her start as a “Fly Girl” dancer on the sketch comedy show In Living Color. But she wanted to go to the movies. “Seriously, I’m an actress,” she recalls telling agents and struggling to find someone to represent her.

Fast-forward through decades of movies, albums, and outside ventures to 2019’s dark girl caper Hustlers, which Lopez starred and produced. Almost immediately, the actress reaped golden statues for her “comeback” role as Svengali stripper Ramona.

And while “Halftime” follows Lopez for the highs, like her first Golden Globe nomination since her breakout role in 1997’s “Selena” — “It took 20 years and another 25, 30 movies to get her,” jokes Lopez — sticking with her for the inevitable lows, too.

After losing the Globe to Laura Dern, Lopez enters a hotel suite filled with her longtime team in her custom-made Valentino gown and offers a casual shrug that would break anyone’s heart.

“I really thought I had a chance. I felt like I let everyone down,” she says later. Moments like this reveal the real star of “Halftime” – the person outside of the tabloids, late-night punchlines and “South Park” parodies. Not everything runs smoothly, no matter how big the star is.

Even the Super Bowl performance comes with a caveat. Rather than headlining solo, Lopez is asked to share the main stage with Shakira, making the gargantuan gig feel like both a boost and a backhand. “It was an insult to say that it took two Latinas to do the job that an artist has done in the past,” explains Lopez’s longtime manager Benny Medina. But after a few frustration bombs, J-Lo takes it easy – like everything else – and uses the moment to make a political statement aimed at countering the anti-immigrant jingoism fomented by then-President Donald Trump.

Watching Lopez on screen, it’s like she’s still fighting the label she was given as a kid: not the singer and not the smart. While “Halftime” can never fully answer the question of who exactly Lopez is, as the star herself admits she won’t reveal everything, the weaving of her many strands together makes the point: she is everything. She doesn’t fit in a big box, which might make it easier to minimize her effects.

This refusal to be tied up is highlighted in a scene between the singer and her music director as they sit down to replay the six minutes of solo time Lopez was allotted on the Super Bowl stage.

“I just need my J-Lo moment,” says her director.

“Which one?” asks Lopez. “There’s hip-hop J-Lo, funk J-Lo, Latin J-Lo… and Mama J-Lo. “Shoot Me But I Can’t Fall” J-Lo. ‘You’re trying to write me off, but I won’t go where’ J-Lo.”

With all the hustle and beating, Lopez keeps going. As we gear up for the Super Bowl, we see the actress film Marry Me, the singer record new albums, and the dancer film music videos.

“She’s a dancer-turned-actress-turned-singer-turned-global icon,” says Lopez producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas. “She’s a woman of color who had the courage to pursue her dreams.”

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