Life As We Know It
PG-13
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: -2

Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Christina Hendricks, Hayes MacArthur. Romantic comedy. Written by Ian Deitchman & Kristin Rusk Robinson. Directed by Greg Berlanti.

FILM SYNOPSIS: In the romantic comedy Life as We Know It, Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) is an up-and-coming caterer and Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) is a promising network sports director.  After a disastrous first date, the only thing they have in common is their dislike for each other and their love for their goddaughter, Sophie.  But when they suddenly become all Sophie has in the world, Holly and Messer are forced to put their differences aside.  Juggling career ambitions and competing social calendars, they’ll have to find some common ground while living under one roof.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I occasionally allow myself to go all Addison DeWitt (the cruel, acerbic critic in All About Eve) whenever a movie challenges the theory, “No one sets out to make a bad movie.” We’ll carve this turkey in a moment, but first let’s cook the stars.

For his assault on moviegoers in In the Army Now and Bio-Dome, I skewered MTV celebrity turned movie star, Paulie Shore, and after threatening to place a contract on her, Mandy Moore (Because I Said So, License To Wed) stopped preening in front of the camera rather than acting. Well, now it's Katherine Heigl's turn (Knocked Up, 27 Dresses, Killers) to endure my wrath. Of her work in The Ugly Truth, I said, “Make no mistake, there is a place for Ms. Heigl in movies. Because of her height and thick wrists, she would be perfect as Zena, the Warrior Princess.” I know, ouch. But it’s difficult to find something kind to say about the former Grey’s Anatomystar due to her attempts at being the new rom/com Lucille Ball. Lucy, she ain’t.

Countless movies of recent cinema past depict men in the same unflattering and misogynistic light. The titles are hard to bring to mind as these films are instantly forgettable, but they usually star Matthew McConaughey, Jason Segel, or Seth Rogen. And now, Josh Duhamel. The guy’s great looking (wish I had his hair and his height), but his character is so unlikable all the way through the film that for the female lead to finally find something “special” in him staggers the imagination. There’s a flaw in his character that by film’s end we are to ignore, much like women who marry cads because of their hair and height. Mr. Duhmael shows promise as a performer, but often his portrayals are too shallow, as in this film.

There are a few humorous moments, but mostly it’s just familiar. Come on, haven’t we all seen our share of films where clueless singles suddenly find themselves facing stinky diapers from food-tossing toddlers? To be fair, the raising of infants is a road full of comic detours, but gags about baby poop and infants vomiting on decked out Yuppies are based more on shock value than deft wit. And by now, they’ve become overly familiar to anyone who ever saw a film about baby rearing. The jokes are dated and the delivery mundane. It’s like hearing a great George Carlin routine repeated by Larry King.

Allow me one last comment before I wish Life As We Know It a dusty video shelf life. There’s a big Thanksgiving dinner served by the female lead somewhere in the Third Act where the gathering gluttons feast away. While I understand not everyone in America finds that holiday meal a time to offer up gratitude in the form of a prayer, the inclusion of saying grace at dinner time almost never happens in films. Why is that? Wouldn’t it have given the storyline and the characters some depth? Here, God is only mentioned in the frequent phrase, “Oh my God,” and Jesus gets the Hollywood treatment with an actor uttering his name in frustration.

Ms. Heigl, a former Mormon, is quoted as saying that although she is no longer a "strong practicing Mormon," she hopes to “...find my way back as I get older and a little less selfish.” I find we do not get less selfish just because of age, but I wish her well with that.

Editor’s note (and I’m the editor): I’ve been a bit rough concerning Ms. Heigl’s abilities. Let me be clear: she is a beautiful woman, with a strong screen presence, and I’m sure she has dramatic skills. It’s just that as yet we haven’t seen her stretch as a performer. I believe, given the right role, Katherine Heigl will astound moviegoers. Now see, Addison DeWitt would never have said that.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Warner Bros.

Summary
Crude Language: A few crude sexual remarks
Obscene Language: The film gears away from most objectionable language, with only a few minor expletives and one or two uses of the s-word.
Profanity: Though the expression “Oh my God” is usually not spoken in a manner meant to show irreverence, still the expression appears here at least nine times; in a film that shows no other regard for the Creator, that expression written by writers and spoken by every actress who ever watched Friends finally becomes agnostic in its delivery.
Violence: Though the parents of the child die in a car accident, we do not see the crash.
Sexual Intercourse: The male lead is secular in his romantic interests, which seem no deeper than lustful satisfaction; we see a couple of bed scenes implying sexual relations; there are several observances from a gay man concerning the male lead.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Occasional social drinking; at one point the female lead gets drunk and there are marijuana references; the couple cook the pot in brownies, getting high.
Other: None
Running Time: 120 minutes
Intended Audience: Women and their unsuspecting mates

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