Warner Bros. // 2010 // 115 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 10th, 2011
Baby + Poop / two TV stars = HUGE LAUGHS!
While on break from such disposable entertainment as the Transformers movies and the TV show Las Vegas, actor Josh Duhamel decided it was time to woo the ladies in a romantic comedy.
While on break from telling everyone how crappy the writers are on Grey's Anatomy and working in sub par romantic comedies, actress Katherine Heigl decided to...make another romantic comedy. And so viewers get stuck with Life As We Know It.
God help us all.
Meet Holly (Katherine Heigl) and Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel), two people who have only one thing in common: mutual friends who have a beautiful daughter, Sophie. Well, two things in common if you count their hatred for each other. When their two mutual friends are suddenly killed (off screen, sadly), Eric and Holly discover that they have been made the godparents of Sophie. Now these two polar opposite personalities -- she of the anal retentive nature, he of the beers-n'-boners crowd -- must come together with one goal in mind: to love and raise Sophie as their own. Yet their task won't be easy as Holly must put up with Eric's irresponsible behavior as he deals with her controlling attitude.
If war is hell, parenthood is a nuclear holocaust.
Life As We Know It is the absolute worst kind of romantic comedy -- dull, clichéd, predictable, formulaic and egregiously unfunny. I sadly admit that I've now sat through this movie not once but twice (the first time on a date, which made is slightly more manageable) and the second time around was even more excruciating than the first. This is the kind of movie that gives other movies bad names, and those names specifically are "horrible" and "mentally unstable."
Like many men I know, I love horror movies and anything that features Bruce Willis blowing s**t up real good. It's in my DNA. That being said, I'm not above a good romantic comedy...except worthwhile examples of the genre are few and far between. As someone who is not a connoisseur of romantic comedies, the only writer/director I have found who consistently makes smart and intelligent movies about love and laughs is writer/director James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets, Terms of Endearment). Everyone can eat his dust, which is exactly what the makers of Life As We Know It do.
Life As We Know It starts off with one of the stupidest plots on the face of the earth: two people's friends have died and now they (Duhamel and Heigl) have been put in charge of raising said dead parent's kid together, even though they A.) aren't together as a couple, B.) don't even like each other and C.) were apparently never privy to this information before their friends passed away. What competently functioning adult parents would actually do this? It's like stipulating in your will that if you die you'd like rabid spider monkeys to raise your children. Frankly, that makes only slightly more sense than this film's idiotic 'meet cute' for our main characters. The rest of the movie consists of these two people hating each other and then finding out that they really love each other (hello clichés, goodbye entertainment value). If you are wondering what that sound is you just heard, it's me projectile vomiting all over my carpeting.
While we're on the topic of characters, both Holly and Eric are uniformly unpleasant people who would drive nuns to drink absinthe. Katherine Heigl plays Holly as a harping shrew and Duhamel's Eric is an irrespirable jackass. Really, these two are so one-dimensional that they wouldn't have looked out of place in a second rate Hanna-Barbera cartoon. The supporting cast is made up of wasted talent including Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama) as Holly's would be suitor (a HUGE improvement over Eric, if you ask me) and Mad Men's Christina Hendricks in a small throwaway role (she deserves a heck of a lot better than this). By the end of the film both Holly and Eric have changed (as they must in a film like this, otherwise what's the point?) but their character arcs are about as exciting as watching paint dry in the dark.
As for the ending (*spoiler warning*), it uses the old "one characters leaves via plane only to reappear after the flight has taken off in a display of true devotion" cliché, something that I thought was washed up in 1987. The filmmakers vehemently disagree. It was at this point in the film that I wanted to take a large wooden spoon and scoop out both my eyes. Keep in mind that I sat through Battlefield Earth and didn't have that intense of a gut reaction. That should tell you how predictably lame this movie is.
Life As We Know It is a romantic comedy that is rooted in the idea that two people who hate each other can eventually fall deeply in love. This is an idea that I think only works in the movies; most all women and men I know that hate each other usually file retraining orders, not marriage licensees. Finally, the comedy element utilized in this film is what I call pee-pee/ca-ca humor. If you think that a movie crammed with baby poop/fart/pee jokes is the epitome of wit, Life As We Know It is going to tickle you to no end. As for me, I feel like I was left with the equivalent of a dirty diaper. And like that piece of garbage, Life As We Know It ought to be buried in a landfill before it rots your brain.
Life As We Know It is presented in 2.35:1 1080p in a widescreen transfer that looks very good. I can't say that this image really pops off the screen -- it's just sort of flat and bland looking -- but overall the colors and black levels all get the job done. Fans of the film (all the ladies in the house say HO!) will certainly be happy with this transfer, even if it's short of perfect.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 in English. In the words of the immortal Billy Idol, "Bring on the pop songs!" (well, not really...) In other words, there are a lot of moments where music plays a big part of the surround experience. If you like your romantic comedy peppered with catchy musical cues, this sound mix is for you. Also included on this disc are English subtitles, as well as French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles and 5.1 mixes.
Life As We Know It includes only a handful of supplements: a short seven minute featurette titled "A Survival Guide to Instant Parenting," "Katherine Heigl: Becoming the Best Mom Ever" (snooze), a five minute featurette on actor Josh Duhamel, "The Triplet Tamer," about fifteen minutes of deleted/extended scenes and a bonus DVD/digital copy of the film.
Sorry folks, but I just couldn't swallow what Life As We Know It was dishing out. Trite doesn't even begin to describe this movie. I predict in about five years Life As We Know It will be the kind of movie that almost no one will remember or care about (read: Walmart $5 bin).
As a side note, for some reason (most likely the title) I keep getting it mixed up with the romantic comedy A Lot Like Love.
Which also sucked.
If this movie really is Life As We Know It, someone put me out of my
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted/Extended Scenes
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy