Between Knocked Up and Life As We Know It, actress Katherine Heigl is running out of ways to accidently become a parent.
Unlike Knocked Up, the Judd Apatow-directed comedy in which Heigel made the transition from television actress to movie star, Life as we Know It is a bland, cookie cutter chuckler that’s stymied by a forcibly contrived plot. The film’s beats are so predictable; at times the movie is like watching a two-hour adaptation of a TV sitcom that was never made.
Heigl stars as Holly, a no-nonsense career woman who secretly longs for the family life enjoyed by her friends Alison and Peter Novak (Christina Hendricks and Hayes MacArthur). Meanwhile, Josh Duhamel is Peter’s friend Eric Messer, an easy-going over-grown frat boy who has comfortably made the transition into the life of an adult bachelor — free from responsibility, worries or a committed relationship.
Naturally, fate (and screenwriters Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson) conspires to bring these two polar opposites together so they can learn just how empty their lives have been without each other.
The writers of Life As We Know It landed themselves a pretty macabre plot contrivance when they went fishing out of idea bog that romantic comedies are born from. When Alison and Peter die in a car crash, they name Messer and Holly as the duel guardians of their infant child. Ignoring or simplifying the mountain of legal troubles that would come with such a decision, the film’s plot prompts Messer and Holly to decide to move into their friends’ house and make a go at raising the child. I say the film’s plot prompts this decision because at no time does the choice feel like it organically came from the characters. This is a situation comedy where the comedy was forcibly molded to fit inside the constraints of a situation — regardless of the fact if the situation was about as dumb as Jersey Shore “star” Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino.
It says a lot about Katherine Heigl’s taste in films that the actress would go from notoriously bad-talking her break-out film role Knocked Up to executive producing Life As We Know It, a film that could very well be the sequel to the Seth Rogan-starring comedy. Both films deal with an up-tight upward-achiever who finds herself inexplicably drawn to a uncouth man-child when they are thrust into the role of parents together. The difference between the two movies, though, is that Life As We Know It lacks the free-flow, improvisational feel of Knocked Up — instead skewing more towards lame, overly-scripted comedy that tries to appeal to everybody but fails to register with anyone.
Between tired jokes about changing diapers to dealing with child protective agents while intoxicated, the movie is like a clip-show of so many other child-rearing centered movies or television shows that have come before. Wholly unoriginal, the movie’s comedy is a tiny watermark on the overall film — barely perceivable and not worth the effort to find. Since the comedy is a dud, it would fall upon Life As We Know It to depend on its emotional drawl to overcome its weaknesses in the humor department. The film comes close to providing genuine sentiment but — just when it looks like the movie is about to flex some romantic comedy muscle and tug at the audiences’ heartstrings, it pulls back and goes for the lame, overdone cliché. If I see one more romantic comedy involving a last-minute race to the airport, I’m going to report the genre to the TSA as a possible terrorist.
Director Greg Berlanti does give the film a nice cinematic look — helpful in reminding audiences that they are, in fact, not watching a sitcom. Without the film’s loose, flowing cinematography, there would be little else to distinguish the show from any of the terrible half-hour drek that litters network television’s prime-time line-up.
Katherine Heigl plays essentially the same character she has in every movie she’s appeared in — apparently mistaking the art of developing acting range with going to the salon and getting a new hairstyle. Josh Duhamel, while still a poor man’s Timothy Olyphant, does show he’s capable of genuine comic timing and could have a great career ahead of him — if he picks his films more gingerly and stops making such cookie cutter rom-com garbage.
Life As We Know It is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer. Bright, oversaturated colors and a polished sheen to the image makes this an easily digestible visual presentation. The movie isn’t remarkably impressive to look at — but the transfer’s high-defintion at least gives the film’s bland, unassuming imagery a sharp, clear facelift.
The film’s soundtrack is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tack that does a nice job utilizing the various stereo channels. As this is not an action heavy film, the nicely balanced mix uses the channels to give the film an immersive atmosphere.
Life As We Know It comes in a two-disc set. The first disc is a Blu-ray that contains the films and all the special features. A second DVD is included that also includes a digital copy of the film.
All the special features are presented in high-defintion.
A Survival Guide to Instant Parenting — One of the few interesting things about Life As We Know It is that the film cast a wide selection of comedians to play the couple’s neighbors. This seven-minute fluff piece featuring the comedians (including Andrew Daily and Rob Huebel) giving humorous parenting advice. Don’t expect anything cutting edge, though. These interviews are all designed to fit around the movie’s pre-existing gags — in order to utilize as many clips from the movie as possible.
Katherine Heigl: Becoming the Best Mom Ever — This six minute profile talks is about Heigel’s involvement in the film both in front and behind the camera. Time is also given to the fact that Heigl adopted a child before the movie entered production. As a fun bonus game, try and catch all the small digs at Knocked Up Heigl takes throughout the segment’s interviews with the actress.
Josh Duhamel: The Triplet Tamer — A five minute profile on Duhamel and his chemistry with the three young babies that played the film’s infant. This feature is the easiest skipped.
Deleted Scenes — Because you demanded more, here are fifteen minutes of exorcised scenes. None, I repeat none, are worth the time it takes to watch them.
As we near Valentine’s Day, Life As We Know It is a film that will make a nice-enough choice when picking a movie to snuggle up with a loved one to. Just make sure you don’t plan on making that relationship a long-lasting one. Anybody who chooses to subject themselves to this movie on purpose surely has as terrible a taste in films as Katherine Heigel does.
Warner Home Video presents Life as We Know It. Directed by: Greg Berlanti. Starring: Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel. Written by: Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson. Running time: 115 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on Blu-ray: February 8, 2011.
Tags: Christina Hendricks, Jersey Shore, Josh Duhamel, Judd Apatow, Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up, Life As We Know It, Seth Rogen, Timothy Olyphant