Life As We Know It

Baby Hazards

         
 

15 October 2010| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Not horribly written as one would expect but the lack of star chemistry blows it. Katherine Heigl (“The Ugly Truth”) and Josh Duhamel (“Transformers”) intend to blend pathos with humor in Life As We Know It, a movie in which the characters hardly contemplate the future five years ahead. Both of their best friends die, and as godparents, they inherit Sophie, their baby girl. Duhamel is the happy beer-drinking guy working to become a TV sports director and Heigl is working to expand her bakery of cupcakes, scones and more. Looking at Heigl, one would have a hard time imagining her doing anything in the kitchen other than to microwave instant brownies.

Director Greg Berlanti forces Josh Duhamel to go to extremes early to establish his wild bachelor behavior as Eric Messer (think messier, oh ha ha) but after he settles in, he is quite magnetic within an otherwise predictable rom-com format. He has the programmed traits of a Vince Vaughn-type without being sitcom-y. Duhamel proves with his charisma that he has a future in a swingers movie.

That Goldilocks Katherine Heigl, as Holly Berenson, has a Miley Cyrus smile but the pout of a wench, investing in hideous grimaces during dramatic scenes that scream of desperation that she wants to be taken seriously as an actress. To not be boring or unaccountable, Heigl toils feminist equality into her on-screen persona but mistakes ballbusting and passive aggressiveness for feminism. “I’m a little bit of a control freak,” Heigl ad-libs, a line that she’s used in more than just one of her movies. “You’re such a killjoy,” she says of Messer, but not of herself.

They meet in 2007 on a blind date setup that does not last five minutes. He shows up on a motorcycle to take her out to dinner. “I’m not really dressed for 40 mph winds,” she says. They get in her Smart car and before they takeoff he is already making cell phone arrangements for an 11 o’clock date. The next couple of years they have too many run-ins with each other, out of script convenience, only because they share mutual friends. Then suddenly – whopper dramatic scene – they are godparents who inherit their deceased friends’ home and their assembly of dorky WASP friends. Plot essential: Holly has feelings for the token hunk pediatrician played by Josh Lucas (“Poseidon”).

The bulk of the rest of the movie consists of scheduling conflicts, diaper clean-up, unexpected romantic triangles, Christening the house, borrowed money, job advancement, fights about who needs to step up the responsibility and multiple interviews with a Child Protective Services social worker. Some of the baby mishaps are right out of a Vin Diesel nor Eddie Murphy babysitting movie. There is, however, an especially funny scene when Duhamel unloads babysitting chores on a taxi driver pal of his so he can squeeze in work. In the end, the characters force themselves into a commitment in order to satisfy genre expectations even if it means self-deception. In five years for these two, who will be lying to themselves?

Junk food movies can work if there’s a communal heart between the talent. Duhamel does what he can to make this a smooth, nonchalant comedy. It’s Heigl who is irritating. It’s all her fault. There’s never a simpatico between Heigl and her co-stars. Ever.

114 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

ROMANTIC COMEDY / LAME JOKES / BAD MOVIES WE HATE

Film Cousins: “Three Men and a Baby” (1987); “27 Dresses” (2007); “The Ugly Truth” (2009); “When in Rome” (2010).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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