Universal // 2012 // 101 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // September 3rd, 2012
A comedy that's a real mother.
L!fe Happens -- see that specious bit of punctuation in the film's title? That tells you all you need to know about this twee, forced bit of gamey grrrl power motion picturing. Our heroine, the spry and sassy Kim (Krysten Ritter, She's Out of My League), decides to ditch all the proclamations about safe sex and go bareback with her latest hunky meat boy toy, a slick surfer stud. Nine months later, she is blessed with a bundle of joy...and a real problem for her care-less, responsibility-free L.A. lifestyle. Roomie Deena (Kate Bosworth, Superman Returns) is partially responsible for the baby's being. She got the only condom left in the house that fateful night. Now, she's required to take up another BFF position when Kim meets a man (Geoff Stults, J. Edgar) who insinuates he doesn't like kids. So Deena pretends the child is hers, leaving her gal pal free to fornicate without any real repercussions. Naturally, the old maternal instinct comes gnawing at Kim just as things with her new man are heating up. Add in an unnecessary female third wheel (Rachel Bilson, Jumper), who seems scripted to represent the worst in self-ironic humor, and you've got the makings of a mangled Knocked Up knock-off, or Bridesmaids without the marriage or dress store diarrhea.
If you're L!fe Happens, and you're saddled with a title that announces your whiny "women rule" comedic leanings out loud, how do you stand out? How do you get an otherwise jaded, post-Apatow audience to pay attention to you? Why, you introduce lactation as the new There's Something About Mary moment and hope that the rest of the running time doesn't totally destroy said gross-out buzz. Like the dirty diaper moment in the otherwise engaging Friends with Kids, L!fe Happens was apparently mandated to make scatology part of the plotting. Without it, the suits probably figured the film would fail. They must have read the script. While Ms. Ritter deserves kudos for coming up with her own starring vehicle, let's not forget the others who've guided their careers into the toilet via their own specialized choices. We're looking at you, Katherine Heigl. Luckily, L!fe Happens isn't quite as hackneyed as Life as We Know It or The Ugly Truth (maybe the titles needed an ancillary umlaut or something). It's still shoddy, uneven, and often too smarmy for its own good, but it doesn't sink to the lowest levels of the redolent RomCom formula circa 2012. Again, Ms. Heigl? Rebuttal?
For the most part, the movie will work for those who've determined that personal accountability is just another word for no friggin' fun at all. It preaches from a bully pulpit lined with the lives of hundreds of oversexed single girls. Sure, this is a man writing the review, but that doesn't mean that L!fe Happens has an entertainment gender bias. It just means that, in a world where you have to worry about paying the mortgage, getting your kid through college, and avoiding the onslaught of old age, watching loose 20-somethings skin tag their way through the miracle of birth is not necessarily a valuable investment of time. Add to it the whole "screwing up my groove" conceit and you've got a comedy containing people we'd rather push off a bridge that legitimately care about. Kim got herself into this mess (remember, she decided to go sans wrapped rascal) and yet she's more than willing to "wish it" on Deena for some more man manipulation. Her friend, on the other hand, is a drag in disguise, the kind of buddy who will buy you some time before outing you like an RNC campaign ad.
The end result is a movie that meanders. We built a bit of consideration for the characters, only to have their confusing choices jar us back to reality. "L!fe" may happen here, but little else of consequence does.
From a technical standpoint, the Blu-ray is fairly decent. The 2.40:1/1080p high definition widescreen image is colorful, clean, and loaded with detail. Yes, this is a low budget entry, but it never looks it. On the sound side, we are treated to a snarky shoe-gazing soundtrack given the Zooey Daschanel treatment by the lossless DTS-HD Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. If you love Chamillionaire's addictive "Ridin' Dirty," you'll dig this audio offering. And as for added content...well, there isn't any.
Yes, all the acting is fine. Sure, the directing by co-writer Kat Coiro is polished and professional. Even the overstuffed script comes up with a few good lines now and then. But just like making a movie celebrating the drunken dullness of a failed frat boy, L!fe Happens (getting sick of typing that "!") give us girls who want to have more than mere fun. Apparently, they are willing to do anything for a good time, including bringing an unwanted child into the world. How hilarious is that?
Guilty. One big groan-inducing nuisance masquerading as a comedy.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R