Mark Reviews Movies

LIFE AS WE KNOW IT

2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Greg Berlanti

Cast: Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Hayes MacArthur, Sarah Burns

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sexual material, language and some drug content)

Running Time: 1:52

Release Date: 10/8/10


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Review by Mark Dujsik | October 7, 2010

As it chugs along, even with its obvious jokes from typical scenarios, one cannot help but feel that at least Life as We Know It is not committing the cardinal sin of putting its main characters through the predictable wringer of the romantic comedy relationship. One character, who could determine the fate of their tenuously balanced situation, even says that going down that road will inevitably lead to disaster.

Here, we think, is a movie that, for all its tried-and-trite moves, is at least staying true to the idea of its central conflict. This is not about two polar opposites who hate each other only to fall in love and realize that their inherent differences are causing an irreconcilable rift between them but then learn that it's those differences that made them fall in love in the first place. Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson's script maintains the story of two polar opposites who find themselves raising a child together and growing to tolerate each other over their shared love for the baby. It stays one until it loses the will and breaks down into the story we figure is coming and really hope won't.

The two are Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl), who likes to be called by her first name, and Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel), who likes to be called by his surname. Holly is a dedicated, sexless control freak, and Messer is an irresponsible womanizer, sliding through life. Their mutual friends, the married Peter and Alison (Hayes MacArthur and Christina Hendricks), set them up on a blind date a few years prior which ended before it began.

Now they are one big happy family. Holly cries while giving her speech as the maid of honor at Peter and Alison's wedding, while Messer makes out with a waitress in the back. Holly caters their new baby's first birthday party, while Messer cleans baby puke from his shirt after bouncing the baby girl a bit too much. Holly tries to find the phone number of her crush Sam (Josh Lucas), a customer at her store, when she gets the call that Peter and Alison have died in a car crash, while Messer shows up at the police station on his motorcycle.

They are so different, the screenplay keeps emphasizing, except when they're told that their best friends have left them both as the guardians of their baby daughter in their will. Then, breaking all decorum and all human sense of grieving, they come together to voice their alternating disbelief. "You mean," "They wanted us both," "To raise the baby," "There must be," they blather back and forth before uniting in the notion that the whole thing is some kind of mistake.

From there on out, it's all schedules (They both have jobs to maintain, although never at the same time except once), diapers (which Messer has no idea how to work), poop (which Holly has on her face but is too proud to listen to Messer's warning), first steps (which happen while Holly's in the tub, forcing Messer to stall with a little push), home videos (which Messer makes and both watch of their dead friends to see they weren't so perfect after all), communal togetherness (all the women and one member of the token gay couple in the neighborhood ogle Messer and gossip), and the difficulties of parenting (money, children's songs, and whatnot). The social worker (Sarah Burns) points out how hard the two of them have it, so don't wreck the chance of a family, no matter how unexpected and untraditional as it may be, by jumping in the sack.

They keep to that. Messer brings women to their new home, and Holly reunites with Sam, who just happens to be the baby's pediatrician (and the nicest guy in the whole, wide world given what he deals with later). Both have their own lives and laugh at the other's eccentricities. They grow not to hate each other, and that's just fine right there.

Then the script can't even take its own characters' advice, and the movie takes a dive. A romance flares up, and even the jokes, already sluggish, seem to reach even further toward the obsolete (marijuana brownies again?). There are the anticipated complications, an obligatory job offer out of state, and a race to the airport for hackneyed measure.

Adding insult, that frank and shrewd social worker becomes an accomplice to the whole thing, screaming to go faster and blubbering when destiny yet again keeps the love birds who never should have been apart. It's a shame, because Life as We Know It was going kind of ok.

Copyright 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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