Sunday, February 2, 2014

Life as We Know It (2010) [PG-13] ***

Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) is a successful pastry shop owner and caterer living in Atlanta. On the advice of her best friend Alison, she agrees to go on a blind date with Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel), best friend of Alison's husband Peter, and a broadcast technician for the Atlanta Hawks. Messer, as his name suggests, is just a coarse, crude bachelor out to score, while Holly is a control freak. The date is a disaster, and Holly and Messer develop a mutual loathing for one another.

Now, fast forward three years. Alison and Peter die tragically in an automobile accident, and Holly and Messer discover that the couple had named them guardians for Sophie, their one-year-old orphaned daughter. Now Holly and Messer have to learn to live with each other in Alison and Peter's house, raise baby Sophie, and still manage their careers.

The major issue confronting the film is how to turn the first act parental-death tragedy into a second act baby-rearing comedy, and then into a third act romance, without losing the viewer in the process. Life as We Know It expects us to be forgiving enough to imagine Holly and Messer getting beyond their personality and lifestyle differences, developing their parenting skills, and then falling in love. Duhamel easily fits into his role, but Heigl seems uncomfortable, and while there is some chemistry between the two, the third act romance isn't completely believable. Heigl, who is now 32 and a wife and mother, plays it safe; she doesn't take emotional risks in her romantic roles, the way she did when she was twenty-something and single. While production values are excellent, especially makeup, costumes, set design and soundtrack, the plot is formulaic with major plot points telegraphed well in advance; the script is tedious, with all of the standard child-rearing jokes, some of them bordering on slapstick. Life as We Know It has an energy that is very similar to another Heigl romantic comedy 27 Dresses, so if you really enjoyed that film, or if you are a forgiving fan of Heigl and/or Duhamel, you might want to ignore the critics' negative reviews and give this film a try. 

Labels: comedy, drama, romance    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 39/100   
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=46, viewers=70)    

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