Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) is an up-and-coming caterer and Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) is a promising network sports director. After a disastrous first date, the only thing they have in common is their dislike for each other and their love for their goddaughter, Sophie. But when they suddenly become all Sophie has in the world, Holly and Messer are forced to put their differences aside. Juggling career ambitions and competing social calendars, they'll have to find some common ground while living under one roof. (from MovieWeb.com)
Last Fall, Warner Bros. released their latest romantic comedy, titled Life As We Know It, a modest outing about two unlikey companions who are given custody of a one-year-old baby girl after the parents accidentally die in a car accident. The film stars Katherine Heigl, who seems more well-known for more abrasive sex comedies like Knocked Up or The Ugly Truth, and Josh Duhamel, who may be most widely known for his contributions to the Michael Bay-directed Transformers movie franchise. Heigl and Duhamel actually make a great pairing, especially when the two are butting heads, and end up being the highlights of this quirky and often dramatic romantic comedy.
In Life As We Know It, Heigl's Holly and Duhamel's Messer pretty much hate each other's guts, but they share the same best friends who the two support throughout the couple's dating and marriage relationship. So when their friends die in a freak automobile accident, Holly and Messer are shocked to find that they've been named the intended caregivers of the couple's baby girl, Sophie. Director Greg Berlanti, who has more work under his belt as a screenplay writer than an actual director (this seems to be his first significant film) sticks closely to the step-by-step romantic recipe, but uses unique circumstances to try to give his move its own identity. It doesn't fully succeed, but he does it well enough to still produce an entertaining film in the end. At its strongest, Life As We Know It ends up being the maturation of two independent and often selfish (well, particularly Messer) people who learn the importance of living for others and devoting their lives to raising a baby. It also offers a very pro-family theme, although it goes about doing it a bit too all-inclusive and stereotypically in an attempt to be as relevant and applicable to its audience as possible.
Through its execution, Life As We Know It is not only formulaic with the way it carries out the romantic elements, but the content of the film is among the edgier PG-13 romantic films. Not only does the story play up Messer's womanizing ways, but there is a surprising amount of drug references in the movie. For example, Messer's friend Peter confronts a couple of kids that appear to be stoned and reprimands them before confiscating a small amount of pot for himself. Later, Messer finds this in Peter's house and suggests he and Holly smoke it. She refuses, so we then see them baking the marijuana into a batch of brownies, eating them, and then sitting stoned while watching kids shows. It's all played for laughs and shows how unfit they are for parenthood, but it seemed out of place in the film and was never fully shown as being a wrong action. But that is a fair example of the movie's take on some controversial topics. In the same scene where Peter confiscates the pot from the teenager, the film takes a jab at Christianity when the kid possessing the pot asks Peter not to rat on him because "my dad's a pastor." The movie also tries especially hard to cover their bases with the kinds of families that are generally found raising children. In the core neighborhood network of parents surrounding Holly and Messer, there are a few traditional husband and wife couples with varying numbers of children, as well as a pair of gay men raising their daughters. It's also within all of this aforementioned material that Berlanti seems to be undecided as to what kind of film it is he's trying to make. The characters surrounding Holly and Messer are mostly caricatures of real people (which, I suppose, is rather common for this genre), while heavy topics are addressed too, like the loss of parents and loved ones, fulfilling life dreams, divorce, child services, etc. The movie tends to flip-flop in tone and ultimately feels inconsistent, despite still being somewhat predictable due to it staying pretty true to the genre's formula.
Despite the drug content, the sexual content is pretty frequent, although mostly present in the form of dialog references. Because of Messer's womanizing ways, there are either frequent mentions of his liasions with young girls, or we actually see him in bed with a girl long after their encounter. Also, all of the neighborhood women (and the gay couple) are entirely fixated on Messer's rugged good looks. It's amusing at times, but becomes a running gag that tires out quickly and, like most of the scenes involving the neighborhood posse, it helps jar the viewer out of any kind of reality the filmmakers are trying to ground the central couple in. Language isn't frequent, but there are two uses of "F-- you" that Holly and Messer whisper to each other during a verbal fight one evening at home, among some other language. It's unfortunate that the movie is as edgy as it is because it does offer some really sweet moments between the central couple, especially as they're learning how to raise an infant. As a new father myself (to a four-month-old boy), I found their experiences being thrusted into parenthood to be easily relatable and the most amusing moments in the movie. I can imagine only parents - especially younger ones - would be interested in a flick like this one, and it's just a shame some of the content wasn't toned down more (although I'm sure it's a far cry from some of Heigl's usual work). The sexual dialog was certainly not needed for the movie and just seemed thrown into the mix just for the sake of including it.
The film's redeemable qualities as a pro-family themed story that contains some enjoyable chemistry between the two leads isn't quite enough to save it from being a rocky venture. The sexual humor is pretty frequent while some surprising marijuana references become a lot more prominent than one might expect in a movie like this. It's all enough to taint a picture that otherwise could have been some sweet little parental escapism.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 2/11/11)
As a Blu-Ray release, Life As We Know It probably isn't a must to see in high-definition, but it does look great in HD. The Blu-Ray release is available as a stand-alone or as a combo pack along with the DVD and Digital Copy, so it remains the ultimate bargain buy for fans of the film. Among the Blu-Ray extras are...
Deleted Scenes (14:42) - Almost fifteen minutes of deleted footage is included on the Blu-Ray disc. The scenes are, for the most part, disposable, including additional footage like a repeated gag where Messer keeps coming in contact with a little boy who picks his nose a lot. There is a pretty good sequence where Messer and Holly try to take Sophie home for the first time but after Holly realizes they don't have a car seat, she walks the baby home while Messer slowly drives alongside the two. Another scene takes place in a hospital room where there's some tender dialog between Messer and Holly. The most disposable of all the footage, however, is a lengthy batch of "interview" clips with the neighborhood parents who are recording video messages for Sophie for when she's older. There is also a semi-racy scene where Messer takes home a girl with the intentions of sleeping with her (much to Holly's objection) and before they can really go far, Holly interrupts them and makes Messer watch Sophie while she runs out to get the baby some medicine. Messer's date, who then first learns that he's a sort-of single dad, is turned on by this fact and the two continue to make out. We later see Holly return as Messer's date leaves.
A Survival Guide To Instant Parenting (7:12) - The first of three featurettes focuses on the supporting cast (well, basically all of the neighborhood parents plus Josh Duhamel) talking about parenthood and their own individual experiences or suggestions for new parents, or parenting from the eyes of their character. The film's director and producer also join in to reflect on parenthood. It doesn't have much by way of behind-the-scenes for the film, but it's a cute segment that fans of the film might enjoy (scenes from the movie are also spliced into the montage of interview clips and some of the language from the film is heard in these clips).
Katherine Heigl: Becoming The Best Mom Ever (5:56) showcases leading lady Katherine Heigl and her role as Holly in the film. The crew talk about working with Heigl and how her signing on to the film helped get the movie made. Katherine also shares about her experience with the movie and how the production of it coincided with her actually becoming a first-time mom in real life.
Josh Duhamel: The Triplet Tamer (5:16) - The role of Sophie was actually performed by a set of triplets. This little featurette, which is also the last of the extras, is probably the closest thing here to a behind-the-scenes spot. It focuses on Josh Duhamel in the role of Eric Messer, but also his relationship with the little triplet girls who played Sophie and how they really bonded with him on and off set. This one's the highlight of the extras.
Overall, although the home entertainment release of Life As We Know It doesn't get all too many extras for fans of the film, what it does offer is decent (especially in comparison to other films given even lighter extras) and the picture quality alone makes the HD release the ideal viewing choice.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 2/11/11)
Theatrical Version: Parental Guide: Quick Summary of Content
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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