Life As We Know It
Director: Greg Berlanti
Starring: Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Hayes MacArthur and Christina Hendricks
It all begins with the date from hell. Holly Berenson (Heigl), an owner of a gourmet bakery, agrees to a blind date with the sports-loving jock Eric Messer (Duhamel). Needless to say, the smart-car driving Holly and Eric the biker don't get along. For one thing, Eric arrives an hour late and uses his phone to arrange another female rendezvous in front of an enraged Holly. Both storm off before reaching the restaurant, cursing mutual friends Peter (MacArthur) and Alison (Hendricks) for setting up the ill-fated meeting. Fast forward two years, and Holly and Eric are forced to try to keep hostilities in check as both are now godparents to Peter and Alison's newborn child. However when Alison and Peter are both killed in a car accident, Holly and Eric must somehow honour their promise to look after the baby. Life As We Know It is the kind of middle-of-the-road movie that tries so hard to please that it loses sight of its strengths. On the positive side, what Heigl and Duhamel lack in A-list star power they make up for in chemistry. From that first scene right down to the predictable ending, both actors try valiantly to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, they are continually beaten down by a tepid script and uneven direction. Instead of exploring the emotional upheaval godparents face when suddenly asked to fulfil their responsibilities, we are treated to predictable comedic set pieces straight out of Three Men and a Baby. These include old chestnuts such as arguments on who should change the nappies and how to feed a surly baby. Thankfully, the film registers a pulse when Heigl and Duhamel are allowed to display their dramatic chops. The scenes in which both confront the realities of their situation are tender. It seems likely that Heigl, who co-produced the film, hoped this would be the film that turned her into true box-office gold. In that regard, it is a mission only half accomplished. Certainly some producers may continue to take a wait-and-see approach, with Life As We Know It's pedestrian script making it difficult to see whether she could hold a bigger film on her own. Duhamel, whose career outside of film has seen him spend plenty of time in both daytime and prime time dramas, delivers the kind of dependable yet unmemorable performance such genres often feature. This is the director Berlanti's second feature after years spent shooting television dramas, and it shows. He seems ill at ease adapting to the big screen and struggles to keep the film at an even pace. The result is a movie that sometimes feels episodic and made-for-TV.