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Life As We Know It
Genre Comedy
Year: 2010
 
Review:

Life As We Know It, a comedy drama starring Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl. The pairing seems wrong, the plot is contrived, it's got "chick flick" written all over it, the movie poster is atrocious and not date-friendly... this flick was looking about as appetizing as a hairball to a cat. Luckily for this reviewer, the media black out worked. Having no idea what I was up for... I bravely committed to the preview, armed with nothing but a couple of recognisable names and a reasonable idea about its genre.

When Holly (Heigl) and Eric's (Duhamel) mutual best friends die in a car accident, their beloved little Sophie is left in their care. Sounds like a horror, it isn't. Now living in the deceased's double-story house taking care of their Sophie, they try to make sense of the radical changes, coping with grief, a mutual dislike for one another and their blossoming careers. It's a difficult situation if they function as anything less than a team.

If I had gone in with any preconceptions, this movie probably would have suffered for it. There were zero expectations and I came out of the cinema after a good couple of laughs and dare I say, a couple of tears too. Life As We Know It isn't a rip-roaring comedy, a heavy drama or a full-blown romance... it's a good mixture of them all. Initially, the film diverts your attention by playing for "romcom" formula. Thing is... it dodges the bullet by becoming predictably unpredictable, opting for typical "romcom" scenes and then reversing them. When the baby was introduced, I thought it was all downhill much in the same way most sitcom's steadily decline after babies enter the scene.

Life As We Know It actually succeeds. They conquer the Hollywood marriage and babies in a carriage bubble by forcing two relative strangers to live together and take care of a baby. The result is pretty fun and even funny at times as a career woman and bachelor boy guy bang their heads a couple of times in finding a reasonable compromise in fulfilling their friends's last wishes. The film offers some insight into the setup and while contrived, functions much like a biographical take on a fairly outlandish scenario.

Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl play out of their socks. Not only do they have great on-screen chemistry, but they hold their characters with great dignity and a real sense of self. Their performances are a step up from what we've come to expect from these Hollywood darlings and they really bring their A-game to the picture, handling the mix of romance, comedy and drama quite dexterously. Life As We Know It would be a two-hander if it weren't for the romance device of Dr. Sam played by the likable Josh Lucas. Sophie, the baby, is played by the Clagett triplets and is cute, zesty and full of it.

If It's Complicated was a satirical take on divorce, Life As We Know It fills in as the "life is messy" prequel with a younger less experienced cast. Both films carry an equal weighting of comedy and reality, although It's Complicated is held together by a kingpin performance from Meryl Streep. In Life As We Know It, there are still two male suitors - although this is a team effort. Katherine Heigl was probably brought in as the glue that binds, but Josh Duhamel is equal to the task and the two make a rock solid team with good presence and a little give-and-take upfront.

It honestly felt like Greg Berlanti (Brothers & Sisters) and his pair of debutant writers was purposefully smashing every preconceived notion of formula at every turn. It's difficult to give an example without giving away some of the story, but the sense of realism is derived from the unpredictable in Life As We Know It. The only sense of formula oozes from the idea that everything's going to turn out okay... which usually happens in these films. While it's been judged to be a "chick flick", it isn't. Guys will get just as much enjoyment if they involve themselves from the rough-and-ready biker guy image that is Josh Duhamel.

Then it's surprising at just how touching this film is... even for hearts of stone. You realise just how caught up you've become when at one or two moments you either burst out laughing or bust a tear. The film is about growing pains, which may not resonate for anyone who hasn't thought about marriage or adulthood seriously. Life As We Know It is a heart movie with enough truth to break into your emotional reserve, which is probably why it got branded as a girl's night out movie. It's a little sad, always hopeful and never far from the human condition.

The bottom line: Charming.

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6.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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