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Philly2Philly.com Reviews Katherine Hiegl's Romantic Comedy 'Life As We Know It'


Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel do their best to make the romantic comedy genre likeable again. Life As We Know It

Life As We Know It is the kind of romantic comedy that does the very best it can within the confines of the floundering romantic comedy genre. It’s predictable, cliché, and conventional, but doggone if it doesn’t have great lead performances, a big heart, and significant overall entertainment value.

Life As We Know It opens with the introduction of Holly (Heigl) and Messer (Duhamel) set up on a blind date by mutual friends Peter and Alison. To say that the initial chemistry between the two is lacking would be an understatement, as no less than five minutes into the evening, Holly has kicked Messer out of her car.

Flash forward a few years later, when Alison and Peter have a baby girl and name the feuding twosome as godparents. This seems to be a manageable task, as Holly and Messer only have to interact at important family functions and in limited capacity. That arrangement is cut devastatingly short, however, when Alison and Peter are killed in a terrible accident, and Sophie is left abandoned.

Holly and Messer then learn that they were the intended caretakers of Sophie should anything terrible occur. This causes initial frenzy, as both are completely forced to re-evaluate their comfortable, secure lifestyles due to this curveball. Messer and Holly decide to seek out other family members to take Sophie, but none of them are suitable to take the child in. With no immediate options left, the two are advised by the court to move into Alison’s house until a hearing that will determine full custody.

Life As We Know It follows the expected romantic comedy framework, but the performances carry the film above and beyond. Heigl and Duhamel have strong, natural chemistry and it’s very easy to see how these opposites attract. Heigl has great presence and Duhamel exhibits surprising charisma for a leading man, but both actors also show capability when it comes to the film’s (few) dramatic moments.

Director Greg Berlanti has an extensive history in television, and some of that shows here. The film features an abundance of broad sit-com humor, and side characters have a tendency to resemble stereotypes as opposed to fleshed out characters. Despite that, Berlanti does manage to keep these shortcomings in check, as well as keeping the films dramatic and serious elements even keeled. Nothing is over the top or overly schmaltzy, resulting in something safe, but nonetheless pleasant.

When Life As We Know It pulls out a ridiculously cliche “race to the airport” scene during the third act, this critic was surprisingly unfazed. This is clearly a testament to the film’s general likability. It doesn’t do anything overly special, but it delivers consistent entertainment capably. For a genre that’s basically dead, Life As We Know It is good entertainment, and one of the more worthwhile romantic comedies to come along this year.

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com

Photo: Warner Brothers