Life As We Know It
isn't the typical romantic comedy as we know it. And it's not the typical rom com performance from its attractive female lead, Katherine Heigl
. Heigl's track record in the genre is spotty at best (Knocked Up
was terrific, 27 Dresses
was so-so, and The Ugly Truth
were downright horrendous), however she bounces back with an appealing turn in Life As We Know It
. It helps that writers Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson and director Greg Berlanti don't turn Heigl into a needy female or make her out to be a sarcastic witch. Instead, Heigl's given a flawed character who's basically appealing to sink her teeth into and she makes the most of it, delivering her best performance in a romantic comedy to date. It also doesn't hurt that Heigl and her co-star, Josh Duhamel
(also delivering one of his better performances), have real chemistry going on - something sorely lacking in her previous jaunts into the rom com world.
Life As We Know It also sets itself apart by not always sticking to the romantic comedy rulebook. It's more mature in its approach to handling the set-up for the comedy, and it doesn't turn either of the two leads into caricatures. Heigl could easily have been made to be the career-obsessed man-hater, what with her non-existent dating life and her dreams of expanding her bakery into a restaurant. And Duhamel could have been just a soulless, good-looking, womanizing love 'em and leave 'em type. After all, he's sporting a backwards baseball cap and has that "I just want to get laid" air about him, which lets us know he's a heartbreaker who could never get serious. But the fact we genuinely come to care for these two disparate individuals forced into raising a baby together shows writers Deitchman and Rusk Robinson took care in developing these characters. The easy route isn't taken, and the characters feel more authentic. For all of their flaws, they're people we can relate to and would likely be friends with in the real world. So kudos to Deitchman and Rusk Robinson for keeping things real, or as real as possible in a rom com world.
A scene from 'Life As We Know It.'© Warner Bros Pictures
Alison (Christina Hendricks
) and Peter (Hayes MacArthur) are happily married, have a gorgeous home, and a beautiful baby daughter named Sophie. But the happiness they feel in each other's presence doesn't spread to their best friends. A few years back Alison tried to set up her best friend, bakery owner/caterer Holly (Heigl), with Peter's best friend, up-and-coming TV sports director Eric (Duhamel), and the results were disastrous. Eric acted like a complete jerk and Holly called the date off before they'd even pulled away from the curb. Since that time, Holly and Eric have continued to get on each other's nerves, and their mutual dislike is palpable.
When a horrific accident thrusts the two together, they're forced to put most of their feelings of intense dislike toward each other aside. Alison and Peter left their precious Sophie in Eric and Holly's care, and though the thought of having to live in the same house and raise a child together would never have crossed their minds in happier times, the two find a way to tolerate each other for Sophie's sake. As they put aside aside their differences for the greater good, Holly and Eric discover there's more to one another than initially meets the eye.
The Bottom Line Life As We Know It avoids most of the romantic comedy traps, however when Holly goes rushing off to the airport to stop Eric from boarding a plane, I was sure the film had taken its first serious misstep. But, thankfully, the airport scene doesn't play out following the standard running through the airport scenario. Instead Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson put their own nice little twist on the rom com convention.
Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl in 'Life As We Know It.'© Warner Bros Pictures
And while it has its share of big laughs, it's the quieter, emotional moments that work best in Life As We Know It
. Sure, there are plenty of baby poop jokes that the two leads gamely engage in, but the film also mixes in drama and, yes, tragedy to create a surprisingly emotionally complex film.
Life As We Know It was directed by Greg Berlanti and is rated PG-13 for sexual material, language.
Theatrical Release: October 8, 2010
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