I am completely serious in saying that the 1-year-old baby Sophie (played by triplets Alexis, Brynn and Brooke Clagett) is the best performance out of any of the ensemble cast in “Life As We Know It.” There are a number of reaction shots made throughout the film that the children nail perfectly. Take for example a scene in which said child eats a bit of Lucky Charms. Her face distorts from curious to joyous in a matter of two seconds. Or how about when she is staring at the television mesmerized as soon as The Wiggles come on. Priceless.
However, the cute baby stuff may be the only thing the film has going for it at all. Problem is that this stuff takes up only about two-fifths of the movie while the other three-thirds give another run-through on why romantic comedies are so boring and unoriginal nowadays. I know that filmmakers have the standard romantic comedy formula down-pat. I know this kind of stuff makes a ton of money at the box office and pays the bills. But would it kill filmmakers to switch up their game a little? Marc Webb and company did with “(500) Days Of Summer” (one of my favorites of last year) and if I’m not mistaken, that did pretty well for itself.
“Life As We Know It” (not to be confused with the short-lived TV series of the same name) is an exercise in what I call the Odd-Couple-Scenario. This film’s unfortunate opposites are the control-freak Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) and the slobby womanizer Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel). Both are mutual friends of a recently married couple played by Hayes MacArthur and Christina Hendricks who later down the line have Sophie, the 1-year old baby I mentioned before. However, tragedy strikes when both of the parents are killed in a car accident, leaving no one to look after the baby.
But as it turns out…
Holly and Eric are both unwittingly chosen by their two deceased friends to be the legal guardians of Sophie if they were to…well, you know. With no other way of avoiding this consequence, the two begrudgingly accept the task. They learn a lot through this ordeal, such as how to care for a child, teamwork, commitment…um, teamwork? But nobody really cares, right? What the target audience is really here for is to find out whether or not the practice Opposites-Attract will be put into effect.
You know what? This is exactly like the 2009 Katherine Heigl vehicle “The Ugly Truth.” Granted, a much better and much less sexist version. And there is a baby thrown into the mix in this one. But other than that, the resemblance is astounding. Let’s see here: Heigl’s character is an uptight perfectionist in both, she starts off each movies disgusted with her male co-star’s character (Duhamel beats Butler anyday), both male characters are cartoonishly sexist pigs, and in time, Heigl grows to fall in love with both male characters.
Like I said, I did find some of the stuff with the baby mildly entertaining. It is exactly what raising a child is supposed to feel like. I will say however that one scene just left a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the time. It was the first of two extended poop jokes to be found it the movie. I won’t spoil it, but no one in my theater seemed to be too impressed either. The cringeworthy scene felt completely out-of-place, unnecessary and unsettling. But the joke’s biggest offense was that it simply wasn’t that funny.
You know, I could have totally made a joke about how romantic comedy and crap go together nicely.
“Life As We Know It” just does not escape the standard of a modern-day romcom. It is ridiculously formulaic, the script is hit-and-miss and the two lead performances leave much to be desired. Hate to say it, but I am starting to become suspicious of Heigl’s acting choices, because all of them are appearing to be identical to the last. Yes, even the (few) good roles (“The Ringer” is the only film where she has strayed somewhat from her usual comfort zone). I want to see her branch out from comedy fare in general. I think she has a good performance for the screen somewhere in her. Here, she merely plays co-second-banana to young Sophie.