Life As We Know It

Life As We Know It

*1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Meet Holly (Katherine Heigl). She's a baker - running her own delicatessen of course, as nice middle class people in the movies do, though she doesn't seem to spend much time there. She's going on a blind date with Messer (Josh Duhamel). He works in sports television, has untidy hair, is vaguely unreliable, and enjoys sleeping around. Naturally the date is a failure. Then, a few years later, the friends who set them up together go and die, leaving them as joint custodians of their one year old daughter. Cue baby-based farce and all the romcom clich├ęs you can eat.

From there on, events follow a predictable path. In fact, several films have used almost this exact plot before. That's not to say that it's impossible to do new or worthwhile things with an old idea, but Life As We Know It really feels like filmmaking by numbers. It's targeted primarily at female viewers who are supposed to lust after Messer yet root for Holly as she struggles with his childishness at seems at risk of being the one left holding the baby. The trouble is, there's really no chemistry between her and the kid (or rather, the three kids who play little Sophie through the course of her rather sudden growth spurts). Duhamel looks far more comfortable with them, undermining the supposed edginess of his character. But when, in the 21st century, edginess is still coded for by riding a motorbike, we should know better than to expect great things.

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Of course, as time goes on, our mismatched heroes start to look at each other in a different way, and there's inevitable romance - with its own share of predictable trouble - down the road. Because you don't have to fall in love, get married and have kids in that order, as we are reminded. That might sound better if it weren't the mantra of half the romantic comedies out this year, and still unabashedly prescriptive. A couple of gay characters and a social worker who reminds Holly and Messer how lucky they are - living in the big house they inherited along with their charge - aim to place this in the modern age, but it still feels like a day trip to Stepford.

At one point in the film we discover that Messer is using the fact he has a child to seduce random broody women. This seems ironic given that the film is basically doing the same thing - it lures people in with a cute kid, takes their money, offers them a shallow romance just like all the others, and seems unlikely to respect them in the morning.

Reviewed on: 06 Oct 2010
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Life As We Know It packshot
Two mismatched adults are called upon to care for a baby girl after her parents, their best friends, are killed.
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Director: Greg Berlanti

Writer: Ian Deitchman, Kristin Rusk Robinson

Starring: Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Alexis Clagett, Brynn Clagett, Brooke Clagett, Sarah Burns

Year: 2010

Runtime: 113 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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