Most people have a plan for their lives pretty early on: finish school, get a degree, begin a promising career and then start a family. Well, in Warner Bros.’ new romantic comedy “Life as We Know It,” director Greg Berlanti shows us just how quickly that “life-plan” can get thrown out of the window.
Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) and Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) are set up on a blind date by their best friends, Alison (Christina Hendricks) and Peter (Hayes MacArthur). Getting off to a rocky start, they quickly realize that they are not a match and her controlling side would not mesh well with his free-spirited womanizing. So after a horrendous attempt at a date, they despise each other and are forced to be civil when running into each other at Alison and Peter’s wedding, birthdays and other event. The only thing they have in common is their love for their friend’s newborn baby girl, Sophie. When tragedy strikes and Sophie is left parent-less and is about to be put into the system, Holly and Eric find out that their best friends named them both co-guardians of Sophie without even asking them. Still in shock and willing to give it a try, they move into their deceased friend’s house in an attempt to keep some familiarity in Sophie’s life.
Holly has a successful bakery and catering business and Eric is a TV director for a sports program. Both of their careers are just starting to take off and neither had planned on children or settling down at the moment. Right from the beginning, you can see they aren’t prepared for diaper duty, meals and being able to get Sophie to stop crying. As the weeks roll on, the civility in the house drops as the conflicts rise. Eric keeps sleeping around with random young girls and Holly is just engorged in her business and nothing else. Neither of them approves of the other’s life and although they genuinely don’t like each other, they are trying their hardest to help Sophie have a normal life. Things get a bit more complicated when Social Services steps in to start checking up on them and the more they try to do things exactly the same as Alison and Peter, the more things don’t seem to work out. Then, when Holly finds a suitor in the form of Sophie’s pediatrician (Josh Lucas), Eric finds himself getting jealous for some reason. Will Holly and Eric be able to make this relationship work, and will they be able to become a true family, for Sophie’s sake?
Being a romantic-comedy in this day and age, you pretty much know the formula by now. Very few stray away from the tried and true, so usually the outcome of the movie is never really in question. “Life as You Know It” is no exception to this rule. Although there is some witty dialogue and great chemistry between the leads, it’s hard for this movie to break out of “the predictability factor.” I tend to go into movies like this just hoping for some decent laughs and not much else — this movie delivers that plus some heart. With many heart-wrenching moments, you get connected and feel for these characters, the obvious pain and confusion is easy for most people to relate to. It is this bond and emotionality that helps make this oddball family work. With lots of “Oh, I’ve been there” laughs and situational comedy when it comes to their interactions with each other and Sophie, it is a funny movie.
Another aspect that is a great addition is the group of intrusive neighbors, all with their own quirks who step in to try to help out. Between a few married ladies and also a gay couple constantly drooling over Josh Duhamel and all of their wacky and unsolicited advice, it’s easy to make correlations to other “fish-out-of-water” movies, but it is still enjoyable. A large amount of comedy comes from Sophie herself, amazingly played by a set of identical triplets; the director really got a lot of personality and emotions from these very young girls. A baby is large responsibility and Sophie doesn’t give the couple an easy time in doing it. Going with easy laughs like the dirty diaper cliché and other similar things, it’s hard not to relate this movie to so many others that have come before it. With the unannounced arrival of a baby like in “Knocked Up” and the romantic triangle seen in “It’s Complicated,” it is very hard for this movie to truly have its own identity.
Being a good date night movie, this film will find its niche with a certain type of movie-goer and should do relatively well. Although the motherhood aspect is a new twist to the typical roles Katherine Heigl has played in the past, she still holds onto a certain part of her past characters that she has played in the past. This movie is a romantic comedy, but be warned it does have a strong emotional undertone.
“Life as We Know It” is rated PG-13 for: sexual material, language and some drug content.
. . .
Follow Adam Poynter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CCWGGuy.