Eric D. Snider

Life As We Know It

Movie Review

Life As We Know It

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: C

Released: October 8, 2010

 

Directed by:

Cast:

"Life As We Know It" stars Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel as two people who can't stand each other but must raise a child together after the baby's parents die. In the process of caring for the kid, they fall in love. What's amazing is that despite everything I have just told you, "Life As We Know It" is NOT the single worst thing ever created by mankind.

I know! This astonishes me, too! I have seen a number of romantic comedies in my day (that number is 42,875), and about half of them have employed the "man and woman hate each other at first but fall in love when they are forced to interact" device. Usually it's something simple, like they're co-workers assigned to collaborate on a project. But forced to raise a child together? Surely that is the dumbest premise I've seen. Surely the people who made the film marveled every day that a major Hollywood studio was paying them to do it.

And yet if you can get past the premise -- that is to say, if you can overlook the film's inherent stupidity -- it's not an unpleasant experience. It has a few laughs. The baby is cute. Josh Duhamel is charming, and even Katherine Heigl is likable for a while. The movie still isn't good, mind you. Not by a long shot. But it isn't eye-gougingly bad, either. Where romantic comedies involving Katherine Heigl are concerned, we will take whatever small victories we can get.

Heigl plays Holly Berenson, a bakery proprietress, and Duhamel plays Eric Messer, a technical director for televised basketball games. They have friends in common, Peter (Hayes MacArthur) and Alison (Christina Hendricks), but nothing else. In fact, Peter and Alison set them up on a date once, and it was disastrous -- not because Holly was a cold shrew, as you'd expect, but because Eric was an hour late, hadn't made any plans, and used his cell phone to schedule a booty call right in front of Holly. Shrewd move, making Eric the jerk so that we'll like Katherine Heigl by default!

(Having accomplished that, the movie immediately makes Eric a normal person, all signs of irresponsibility and carelessness wiped away.)

Then Peter and Alison die; whoops! Their will stipulates that if they should ever die together, they want Holly and Eric to raise little Sophie. This is because Holly and Eric are the child's godparents, never mind that they hate each other and Peter and Alison know this. Oh, and since Peter and Alison's house is paid off, it will be easier if Holly and Eric move in to it.

Well, there are baby-raising shenanigans, let me tell you. Upchuck is involved. So is poop. Surprisingly, though, these things do not comprise the bulk of the film's humor. So yes, I am praising a film for NOT being nothing but wall-to-wall poop jokes. Congratulations on being fairly civilized and not altogether despicable, movie!

Holly and Eric try to have separate social lives at first, juggling their busy schedules and sharing the Sophie-related responsibilities. Eric's thing is that he sleeps with dumb women every chance he gets; Holly's thing is that she has a crush on the pediatrician (Josh Lucas). A couple scenes suggest that all the neighborhood housewives, as well as the local gays, have the hots for Eric, but that idea doesn't go anywhere.

The movie was directed by Greg Berlanti, best known as the creator of TV's "Everwood" and "Eli Stone," and the screenplay -- which has been floating around since 2001! -- is by first-timers Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson. It eventually has a scene where someone rushes to the airport to stop the other person, only to find that the flight has just departed, only to find that the person didn't get on the plane after all. Between that and the main premise, there's clearly no reason to watch this movie, and I'm not suggesting you should. I was just glad it didn't make geysers of blood spurt from my ears, that's all.

Grade: C

Rated PG-13, a little profanity, a little sexuality

1 hr., 52 min.

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