I laughed while watching "Life as We Know It", the newest Kathryn Heigl vehicle. Heigl has a unique sort of movie star look and evokes memories of some of the stars of the 50s and 60s. In fact, "Life" seems like a movie Doris Day might have made. I am not a huge fan of Doris Day's films.
But after watching this film, I became depressed. "Life" is a forthy, frivolous little confection but it is also a film you will instantly forget. I find it a little sad when people make one film after another, films that do nothing to challenge their skills or showcase their talents.
Holly (Kathryn Heigl) owns a small bakery in Atlanta. Her friends fix her up on a blind date with Messer (Josh Duhamel), an editor of live sports telecasts. They are completely wrong for each other and don't get along at all. In fact, they instantly hate each other. Their friends, Allison and Peter (Christina Hendricks, TV's "Mad Men" and Hayes MacArthur) have a baby, Sophie, and name Holly and Messer as the baby's god-parents. This forces Holly and Messer to spend time with one another at Sophie's birthday parties (Holly is a baker and brings elaborate cakes) and other family events One night, Holly gets a phone call and learns her two friends were killed in a car accident. She and Messer soon learn they are the designated guardians and reluctantly try to raise Sophie, based on their friend's last wishes.
In reading this synopsis, you can probably guess just about every "twist and turn", if such obvious moments can be labeled as such. This is always a problem in my eyes. Yes, the familiar is welcome in some circumstances, but while watching a film or television show, familiarity usually leads to boredom.
There are some funny moments and some funny observations, but they seem too forced, too sitcomy and too few and far between. The film is directed by Greg Berlanti, who comes from television. He is currently one of the producers of the new television series "No Ordinary Family", which is better than this film. When someone comes from a television background, you hope they will use the opportunity to make a film to push for something different and better, something more challenging. But "Life" plays like a sitcom or dramedy. When Messer is faced with a problem, he is saddled with Sophie when he has an opportunity to direct his first sports broadcast, his solution plays out like something you would see on CBS on Monday night. It is not necessarily something you want to pay $11 or more to experience in a theater.
I have seen a number of Kathryn Heigl's films and I have always laughed at her performances. Given the fact she and her mother serve as Executive Producer on her films, she is clearly trying to model her career after the comedy stars of yesteryear. She seems to want to be the next Katharine Hepburn or the next Rosalind Russell. Is she as good as either of these classic actresses? No way, but she holds some promise.
What I find disappointing is that her films are so mediocre. This seems to be the result of everyone associated with the films; the studio okaying the film, the writer(s) who provide the predictable 'madcap" story, the director who can't make the film something new and interesting. But most importantly, the fault lies with Heigl herself. If, as Executive Producer, she doesn't push the people working on the project to produce something interesting, who will? I still think she holds promise, I am still waiting for a truly memorable film role, but I won't be waiting for much longer.
Josh Duhamel is also extremely likable but he also hasn't delivered on the promise many believe he has shown. A former soap actor ("All My Children"), he then starred on "Las Vegas" leading to a role in a surprisingly good romantic comedy called "Win a Date With Tad Hamilton". The "Transformers" films follow, one good and one bad. Maybe the third will be the charm. But it is difficult for him to stand out amid all of the cacophony and destruction of these mega-budget films. His last few films have been disappointing. In "Life", Messer is a mess and he doesn't realize it. But you know that over the course of the film, he will learn what is important in life and he will become a better person. This doesn't come as a surprise does it?
Josh Lucas, also once a promising actor who is extremely charismatic, plays the guy Holly is interested in and attracted to. He is completely the opposite of Messer, a successful pediatrician who does everything possible to woo the café owner, he doesn't stand a chance. What happened to his career? Wow! He is now relegated to playing the guy Kathryn Heigl doesn't want or end up with?
And when you see one film after another in which people just don't move forward, that is truly depressing. And forgettable. What was the name of that other Kathryn Heigl film? Kathryn who?
I don't know about you, but I don't like to pay $11 or more to become depressed.