Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Hayes McArthur, Christina Hendricks, Andrew Daly, Will Sasso
- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by David Medsker
hat a horrible premise for a romantic comedy. Two frenemies are forced to stay in the house of their mutual best friends and take care of their infant daughter after her parents are killed in a car accident. That barely worked as the plot to the pitch-black drama “21 Grams,” and it sure as hell isn’t good source material for a comedy. Ha ha, your best friends are dead. Now go take care of their kid. In an age that gets off on irony (despite most of its consumers not knowing the real meaning of the world), this is pretty callous, maybe even soulless. That new mom Katherine Heigl would not only star in the movie but executive produce it is mind-boggling.
Peter (Hayes McArthur) and Alison (Christina Hendricks) try setting up their same-sex best friends Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) and Holly (Heigl) on a date. It’s an unmitigated disaster, and Messer has taken great pleasure in making Holly uncomfortable since then. Two years later, shortly after the first birthday of Peter and Alison’s daughter Sophie, Peter and Alison are killed in a car accident, and their will states that Messer and Holly are to be Sophie’s legal guardians, which is news to both of them. The two move into Peter and Alison’s house and try their best to take care of Sophie while maintaining their single lifestyles, which is further complicated by Holly’s pre-accident meet cute with Sam (Josh Lucas).
Let’s review: the fact that Messer and Holly were Sophie’s legal guardians in the event of her parents’ untimely death was news to them. In the real world, the movie ends right there, because there isn’t a parent alive that springs this sort of thing on anyone, friend or relative, from the afterlife, especially if they are the planner that Alison allegedly was. So we have the unsightly plot, propelled by an implausible sin of omission; may as well take the newborn baby angle all the way home with some puke and poop jokes, which the movie has in abundance. That, and roadblocks, roadblocks, roadblocks. Messer gets to direct his first telecast at his job, but it’s his night to watch the baby. Do you think he’ll turn it down, or bring the baby with him?
Heigl quickly established herself as a rom-com queen with the one-two punch of “Knocked Up” and “27 Dresses,” and she’s played the exact same character in every movie since then. (Well, perhaps not in “Killers,” but that character had a completely different laundry list of issues.) She’s the Type-A+ planner and ultra-careerist who’s too busy talking to listen to what’s going on around her. Heigl is very good at this role, sure, but if she doesn’t shake things up, she’s going to become the next Meg Ryan. Duhamel is a tougher nut to crack. Is he getting these roles because of his chops, or his body? He’s yet to turn in a truly bad performance, but he sure has turned in a lot of unremarkable ones, and between this and “When in Rome,” he’d better be in the market for a new agent. We’d comment on the other actors, but honestly, they don’t matter.
It’s hard to believe “Life as We Know It” made it past the pitch session. One wonders if the script was a holdover from the potential writer’s strike, where every script good and bad was getting greenlit just to guarantee that studios would have something, anything, to release. Still, even if this were a pre-strike insurance policy, they should have killed it dead the second the strike ended. It’s just a bad idea, throwaway laughs built on a foundation of grief. You can’t help but picture Peter and Alison watching Messer and Holly from the Great Beyond, begging God for a do-over.