Monday, October 11, 2010

Life as We Know It


Spoilers...

Saturday night I wasn’t in the mood to watch something from my DVD collection, so I decided to go see Life as We Know It. Since I wasn’t in the mood to cook anything, either, popcorn for dinner seemed like a perfect idea. *g* I find myself somewhat conflicted about my take on this movie. I really wanted to like it (mainly because I thought Josh Duhamel was so freaking adorable in When In Rome), but I didn’t like it nearly as much as I expected or wanted to, to be honest. That’s not to say the movie isn’t without its charms – I just wish the good wasn’t counterbalanced by so much meehhhh…

If you’ve seen the preview, you know the story – Duhamel and Katherine Heigl play a pair of constantly at-odds singles (Messer and Holly) whose respective best friends (played by Hayes MacArthur and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks) just happen to be married. When the aforementioned best friends have their first child, Messer and Holly are made the baby’s godparents. When both parents are tragically killed in a car accident, Duhamel and Heigl are shocked to learn that they were named baby Sophie’s joint guardians.

Of course, Holly and Messer took an instant dislike to each other when their best friends tried to set them up on a blind date a couple of years earlier. She’s organized and punctual, he’s sloppy and laid-back. They couldn’t be more different, but since this is a romantic comedy, of course we can guess how things are going to turn out. When it comes to romantic comedies, I don't mind predictability if the stars have chemistry and the storyline adds one or two fresh takes to the formula. The end point, for me anyway, is how much I enjoy watching the journey unfold on-screen. Since this film centers around two single adults trying to raise a young child, there are a TON of comedic possibilities for the filmmakers to mine, and they take full advantage for the most part. It helps that baby Sophie is played by the freaking adorable Clagett triplets (who totally look like they’re related to Christina Hendricks, right down to the eyes!), so any scene with the baby are some of the movie’s best moments.

Katherine Heigl movies are either hit-or-miss for me. Personality-wise she typically comes across as someone I think I would get along with. Movie-wise, I either love her films (i.e., 27 Dresses), find them forgettable (i.e., Killers), or I won’t touch them with a ten-foot-pole (i.e., The Ugly Truth, because no matter how much I love Gerard Butler, R-rated romantic comedies are way too crass for my tastes). Heigl is better here than she was in Killers, but falls short of the charm and likability found in 27 Dresses. My problem with her character is that I just didn’t buy the process she goes through that results in her change of heart towards Messer…and this is due to the incredibly attractive “option B” the script throws in her way in the form of Sophie’s pediatrician played by Josh Lucas. (Side note: Why isn’t Josh Lucas in more movies I want to see? The man needs another Sweet Home Alabama moment ASAP.) Holly goes from hating Messer, to tolerating him, to falling for the doctor, to jumping into bed with Messer, back to the doctor, and then back to Messer so fast and with so little context it just leaned too much towards contrived for my tastes.

As he proved from his turn in When In Rome, Josh Duhamel has got a lot of potential as far as being the star of romantic comedies goes. Life As We Know It taps into some of that – in fact, I’d rate Messer’s character arc as the best part of the film. Messer is quite a womanizer when the movie starts, and personality and lifestyle-wise he seems to have the most adjusting to do when it comes to deciding whether or not he’ll accept his friends’ wishes and become Sophie’s guardian. I LOVED watching Duhamel interact with the baby – seriously, a guy like him carting around an adorable baby like Sophie? I’d fall for him in two seconds flat, if that. *wink* Watching Messer bond with the baby is hilarious, especially when he becomes fascinated with her TV shows (like the super-freaky Wiggles!). I thought that Messer’s change of heart towards parenthood and Holly was much more believable than hers – it didn’t hurt that once he makes that jump we only see his feelings for Holly, he doesn’t move back-and-forth between Holly and another romantic option. I get why Holly turns to the doctor when she thinks she can’t depend on Messer or trust his feelings for her, since she’s a character who craves security. I get that. Yes, he doesn’t tell Holly about his across-the-country job offer and he should have, but good grief he was going to loan her all sorts of money to see her dreams for expanding her restaurant come true – that gesture apparently didn’t mean quite as much to Holly initially as it did to Messer, as that was the first time he was really willing to invest in another person’s dreams. Josh Duhamel is adorable, even moreso when he starts to “grow up” into his new responsibilities as one of Sophie’s guardians, and incredibly patient with Holly’s quirks – so yeah, I can’t help but pull for him to “win” in the end. But that didn’t lessen my dislike for how poor Josh Lucas ends up getting his heart stomped on. The doctor’s storyline deserved better IMO.

So basically, I’d watch this movie again just to get a Josh Duhamel fix. It’s too bad that the end product doesn’t quite live up to the story’s potential, though. I also wish the script hadn’t called for the characters to make the "oh-so-hilarious" batch of pot brownies and get high while the kid was sleeping, for one thing. Seriously?! It’s just beyond me how that scene was funny. For a film that touched on some serious issues – grief, adjusting to unexpected life changes, etc. – scenes like that just felt grossly irresponsible.

As far as the movie’s supporting cast goes, the highlight was Melissa McCarthy as one of the neighbors, DeeDee. McCarthy is just hilarious and in everything I’ve ever seen her in (The Back-up Plan or Gilmore Girls), she pretty much steals every scene.

Life as We Know It left me wanting more Josh Duhamel romantic comedies – the guy can take the most roguish, irresponsible character and make him likeable. The movie's main problem boils down to tone - it can't decide if it wants to be a rom-com or a romance touching on serious issues like grief and parenthood. Cute, but falls short a bit. I'm curious, if anyone else out there has seen this, what are your thoughts?

6 comments:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I haven't seen this yet. But I want to. On a side note: Josh does does nothing for me. I think he's too preppy or something. But I feel you on KH. They are totally hit or miss.

Ruth said...

@Juju - Well, any Josh appreciation I have isn't of the long-standing variety - When In Rome is what really made me take notice. Glad I am not the only one who feels the same way about KH's films though! :)

Liv said...

I honestly expected this movie to be just like you said it was. I'm a big k.h. fan in grey's anatomy, but I generally hate all her movies.


I'm thinking the only thing I would enjoy is watching them try to be parents ... might make me laugh.

Ill save this for when it comes on TV.. or a bad night at redbox.

Ruth said...

@Liv - I think you have an excellent plan there. The movie is not without some merit - namely the parenting scenes - so on a boring redbox night I say go for it. I wish KH's movies would be a little more consistent...

Polka Dot said...

I was hoping this movie would be amazing, since I fell head-over-heels for Josh Duhumel in When in Rome. :P

Ruth said...

@Polka Dot - Me too, I was hoping for the exact same thing. If it helps, he's definitely the best thing about this movie. :)