Life As We Know It (Warner Bros. Pictures, PG-13)

Life As We Know It is a refreshingly spot-on comedy/drama about two unlikely people tasked with raising a baby together.

 

 

I went into this one not knowing what to expect. Kathryn Heigl’s last movie, The Ugly Truth, was, to be kind, an ugly mess. Still, I had the night off work, and the trailers didn’t look so bad.
Turns out I was glad I had gone. Life As We Know It is a refreshingly spot-on comedy/drama about two unlikely people tasked with raising a baby together. Sure, it’s got some familiar themes: two people who initially hate each other yet—you guessed it—are destined to fall in love; the learning curve of suddenly being forced to care for a baby, and all the pratfalls that accompany it. But, save for just a couple of tired scenes/plotlines (motorcycle, airport), the movie rings true in almost every other way.
Heigl plays Holly Berenson, a successful pastry chef/caterer who runs her own business. Josh Duhamel is Eric Messer—tellingly, he goes by just his last name—a network sports director. Their best friends, Peter Alison, had attempted to set the two up years ago, an experiment that failed before it was even out of the gate (literally). Since then, the two had enjoyed a contentious relationship at best, often in each other’s company as the best friends of the couple and godparents of their daughter, Sophie.
When Peter and Alison die in a tragic auto accident, Holly and Messer find themselves the proud parents of young Sophie. They move into their friends’ house to care for the child, where together they discover the joys of parenthood: feeding, diapering, first steps and first words. Though no real family is introduced for either character, they find themselves with a network of supportive—if intrusive—neighbors, all of whom have parenting advice (and, it seems, crushes on Messer).
There is no over-emoting here; Heigl is an absolute charmer in her subdued role as Holly. She is organized and orderly, yes, but not to the point that Holly is portrayed as a goody-goody. Duhamel’s Messer is a little bit frat boy, it must be said. But there’s a whole lot more to his character than just a guy who won’t grow up, which we see as Messer accepts his new responsibility and his new family, as it were.
The “family” tag sneaks up on us and them. As the film goes on, as the two new parents are tested both at home and also at work (though work definitely takes a backseat in this story), we grow along with them, accepting them for their faults as well as strengths. When the two realize their feelings for one another, it’s a natural storyline; the bricks have been laid and the result is as it should be.
Of course, Life As We Know It wouldn’t be a good romantic comedy were it not for the problems that of course must befall every couple. Will Messer take that job in Phoenix if it means leaving his family? Will Holly find love with another? Will the Child Protective Services representative declare Holly and Messer fit parents, granting them permanent custody?
I’m sure you know the answers to these questions, and that’s OK. We’re not meant to be surprised by the tried-and-true story line. What we’re meant to do is accept Holly and Messer as real, honest-to-goodness people, and ones we care about. By that measure, Life As We Know It is a very fulfilling and rewarding use of your evening. | Laura Hamlett
About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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