Life as We Know It
2010, PG-13, 113 min. Directed by Greg Berlanti. Starring Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Christina Hendricks, Hayes MacArthur, Sarah Burns, Alexis Clagett, Brynn Clagett, Brooke Clagett.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 8, 2010
With its sitcom-ready premise and its engaging and attractive leads, Life as We Know It lives up to its title: This romantic comedy is more of the same. Heigl and Duhamel, despite extensive filmographies, remain best known for their TV breakthroughs in Grey’s Anatomy and Las Vegas, respectively, and their combined likability quotient infuses this two-singletons-and-a-baby story with a sense of spontaneity and brightness. It’s the best date-night movie to hit the screens in a while, which, considering the competition, is very faint praise. Life as We Know It indulges in wish fulfillment and fantasy: motherhood without stretch marks and morning sickness, fatherhood without the rat race and monogamy. In this improbable story, Holly Berenson (Heigl) and Eric Messer (Duhamel), who goes by his last name, become instant parents when their best friends (MacArthur and Hendricks of Mad Men fame) die in a car accident and leave a will that designates Holly and Messer as the child's guardians. Each is a friend of only one of the spouses; Holly and Messer’s antipathy for each other is delineated in a blind date shown in the movie’s preamble. Nevertheless, they move into their friends’ house to raise adorable Sophie (the Clagett triplets), despite the preposterousness of the premise. Cue the montages of dirty diapers, baby’s first steps, feeding mishaps, along with the psychological sparring between this mismatched pair that we all recognize as a cover-up for their sexual attraction. Neighbors, social workers, and the like come and go, as do career opportunities. Eventually, they discover what we knew all along: These two belong together. Director Berlanti, another TV veteran, pads the film with numerous clichéd montages set to popular music, and the script by Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson brings little that’s new to this baby shower. But the actors are fully invested in the charade, even if the movie that surrounds them is not.