Life As We Know It
dir Greg Berlanti
scr Ian Deitchman, Kristin Rusk Robinson
prd Paul Brooks, Barry Josephson
with Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Sarah Burns, Christina Hendricks, Hayes MacArthur, Jean Smart, Faizon Love, Melissa McCarthy, Andrew Daly, Jessica St Clair, Will Sasso
release US/UK 8.Oct.10
10/US Warner 1h54
Life As We Know It
Instant family: Heigl, Duhamel and friend

lucas smart love
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Life As We Know It A serious premise throws us off the scent of this film's true nature as a formulaic rom-com. Because the first half feels like a drama interspersed with a bit of slapstick. Then the structure kicks in and there's nothing left to hold our attention.

The uptight Holly (Heigl) and the womanising Eric (Duhamel) hate each other at first sight, despite the fact that they were introduced by their best pals (Hendricks and MacArthur), who also make them godparents for their new daughter. And when little Sophie is orphaned, Holly and Eric suddenly find themselves sharing custody of the now 1-year-old. Which is tricky since they loathe each other. As Eric seduces a string of women, Holly falls for her dream man (Lucas). But of course, this joint parenting job is bringing them together.

Besides all of the bickering, the film is remarkably sober about its set-up, keeping things grounded in reality as Holly and Eric struggle with both their grief and their new responsibilities. So when the script suddenly throws in broad comedy involving alcohol or drugs, it feels utterly false, jolting us out of the situation and reminding us that we're watching a dumb Hollywood movie. And this gets much worse when the clanking requirements of the genre take over, complete with a climactic race to the airport.

To give them their due, the filmmakers continually try to undermine the cliches, and the cast does a great job creating believable characters - not only Heigl and Duhamel, but also the crowd of lively friends and the five little girls who play Sophie. But the moment we recognise the plot's signposts, the movie is over for us, because we know exactly where it's heading. And it takes a long, long time to get there.

It simply isn't good enough anymore to indulge in tired romantic comedy storylines without having somewhere interesting to go with them. This script seems to think that it's frightfully original (the dialog actually says as much), but by the end we're rolling our eyes at the corniness of it all. It's rather cute and sweet, in a sickly sort of way. But that's no longer adequate.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 17.Sep.10

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