Thursday, October 7, 2010

Life As We Know It

In 2007 organized, stable, snarky Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl: “Grey's Anatomy”) and laid-back, skirt-chasing, but equally snarky Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel: “When in Rome”) are set up on a blind date by their mutual friends, Peter and Allison. Things do not go well. Three years later when the unthinkable happens to Peter and Allison the pair find themselves left as guardian's of the friends' child. Can they put aside their dislike of each other as well as their plans for their own lives to raise a kid together?

“Life As We Know It” is the new Drama-Rom-Com hitting theaters this Friday from director Greg Berlanti. This looks to only be his second time in the director's chair, he doesn't do a spectacular job of bringing this story to the screen, but then it's not really a spectacular story, so it works out okay. After slapping you upside the head with the tragedy stick about thirty minutes in, the movie becomes a pretty standard rom-com with a large portion of unprepared-parent-comedy thrown in

The whole film is fairly straight forward and predictable. Poop jokes? Check! Fussy baby jokes? Check! Male and female leads clearly being jealous when the other is with someone else even though they claim to still hate each other? Check, check, and double-check! I'm not saying the movie is not funny or entertaining, I'm merely saying that you are not going to have your socks knocked off.

Heigl and Duhamel do a fine job playing their fairly standard issue rom-com characters, but they never really go the extra mile for laughs. For me the characters who stand out the best are the baby, Sophie (played by Alexis, Brynn, and Brooke Clagett) whose expressive face steals more than a few scenes from her adult co-stars, and Sarah Burns (“I Love You, Man”, “Going the Distance”) as CPS investigator Janine Groff. Both characters are underused though, and this seems somewhat worse with Sophie since the movie sort of revolves around her, but she is used more as a prop and plot device than a full fledged character a lot of the time. I would also liked to have seen a lot more of Burns' character in the film as she was a bit more entertaining than the main couple, a fact that I think even the writers realized as she plays a prominent role during the movie's climax despite there being no real stated motivation for her to do so.

This is clearly a film intended for women (I know, a rom-com with a baby in it not being geared towards men, who'da thunk it?), and with that in mind you can expect to see a lot of a sweaty Josh Duhamel without his shirt on. Sorry guys, there is no eye candy for you here; the closest Katherine Hiegl gets to fan service is on brief scene in a bath towel that could easily have been a cheesecake-y, but isn't.

Ultimately, “Life As We Know It” is a funny, sweet film that is not easy to genuinely dislike, but is not easy to recommend either. The movie is a little too paint-by-numbers, and, at times, feels like an idea for a WB sitcom that got salvaged from some recycle bin and re-purposed. If you've seen more than a couple of romantic comedies in your life then you know how this is going to end before the lights even go down. It's not bad, but it's not worth theater-money either. I suggest waiting for it to come out on DVD, and go see something else on the big screen this weekend.

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