Movie Review - Life As We Know It (***)


Life As We Know It.  115 mins.  PG-13.  Directed by Greg Berlanti.  Written by Ian Deitchman & Kristin Rusk Robinson.  Starring Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, and Josh Lucas.
Nothing earth-shattering occurs in the new romantic comedy, Life As We Know It.  It tries its hand at some dramatic moments, but it's mostly just content playing by the normal romcom rules - with a splash of some Three Men & A Baby/Baby Boom-type baby hijinks.  What saves it is the pleasant, relaxed tone that director Greg Berlanti (of TV's Everwood, Brothers & Sisters) sustains, as well as the solid lead performances of Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel.
The movie opens with a prologue showing a first date disaster between Heigl's Holly and Duhamel's Messer.  Cut to a few years later, when their mutual best friend couple dies in an accident, leaving behind their one year-old daughter.  Sad, right?  Not for long, because the couple willed their house and daughter to Holly and Messer.  Stuck living under the same roof and raising a child together may not have been part of the plan, but the three eventually become a family and though they couldn't stand each other at first, Holly and Messer now find themselves falling in love.  Along the way, there are diaper changing jokes, poop on the face gags, and a few others that are considerably more clever - particularly the bit about watching The Wiggles while stoned.
Duhamel is great here - playing the roguish, playboy TV sports director.  He's a perfect match for Heigl, who has tried her hand at a series of lame romantic comedies over the past few years to middlng results, while never really jelling with co-stars Ashton Kutcher or Gerard Butler.  I like Heigl and Duhamel together - I just wish the movie was more original and gave them something to really work with.  Despite the promise of drama, there is nothing all that challenging about the material.  
This is low-risk filmmaking that gives audiences the bare minimum of what they want, but does so in a satisfying manner.  Life As We Know It is much better than, say, The Ugly Truth or When In Rome - they're not even in the same league.  I recognize that's not saying much, and I'm sure some of the more jaded, cynical moviegoers will despise it, but I bet the majority finds the movie to be a mildly enjoyable diversion.

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