- Running time:
- 113 minutes
- Katherine Heigl -
- Holly Berenson
- Josh Duhamel -
- Eric Messer
- Josh Lucas -
- Christina Hendricks -
- Alison Novak
- Hayes MacArthur -
- Peter Novak
After an epically bad blind date arranged by their friends, Holly (Katherine Heigl) and Messer (Josh Duhamel) assume they’ll go their separate ways in life. At least until the sudden death of those same friends (Christina Hendricks, Hayes MacArthur) leaves Holly and Messer the unlikely guardians of baby Sophie (triplets Alexis, Brynn and Brooke Clagett) and the mismatched couple are forced into a parental alliance that may or may not blossom into romance. (But really, you only get one guess where this is heading…)
The buzz: Having conquered unexpected pregnancy comedy in “Knocked Up,” Heigl moves on to an unexpected parenthood comedy as she leaves her Emmy-winning role on “Grey’s Anatomy” behind and segues to big screen work full time. She must be hoping “Life” delivers a box office boost after this summer’s flop “Killers.” But is co-star Duhamel—a Daytime Emmy winner for “All My Children,” best known on film as a minor player in “Transformers”—a suitable leading man? And is director Greg Berlanti—executive producer of TV’s “Everwood” and “Brothers & Sisters” and director of the likeable but slight 2000 indie dramedy “The Broken Hearts Club”—up to the task?
The verdict: A step in the right direction for Heigl after the likes of “Killers” and “The Ugly Truth,” “Life As We Know It” is sweeter and more emotionally grounded than the rom-com norm. But for every moment the screenplay by Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson gets right, there are two more to make you cringe in embarrassment. The goodwill generated by Heigl and Duhamel’s disarming performances and some honest consideration of parental sacrifice and responsibility gets completely undermined by Berlanti’s amateurish handling of weak comedic set pieces, clichéd dramatic conflicts and a sorely underutilized supporting cast. Hendricks disappears before she registers, Josh Lucas is a thankless third wheel in the romance and Jean Smart goes uncredited for a few seconds of screen time as Holly’s mom. Only scene-stealers Sarah Burns as a sympathetic social worker and Melissa McCarthy as a colorful neighbor manage to make any lasting impression. That would be easier to overlook if the nearly two-hour running time wasn’t dominated by baby barf and poop jokes, and a flirtation with a forgone conclusion. If you’re looking for a predictable story that hits familiar notes in a warm way, “Life” does the trick. But there’s too little of life as we know it, and too much of movies as we know them.
Did you know? The NBA cooperated with the filmmakers in depicting Messer’s job as a technical director for Atlanta Hawks games, allowing use of real game footage and filming inside Atlanta’s Philips Arena.
Movie theaters and showtimes for Life as We Know It in Des Moines.
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