What a pain in the Heigl
Life As We Know It
Starring Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Christina Hendricks, Hayes MacArthur. Screenplay by Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson, directed by Greg Berlanti. 114 minutes, rated M (sexual references), showing at Reading Porirua and Light House Pauatahanui cinemas.
There is cinematic potential to be mined from a story about two people unexpectedly thrust into parenthood – but you won’t find it in Life As We Know It.
Unless you really need the camera to cut to a close-up of a baby looking perplexed every three minutes, I’d suggest you dust off your copy of Knocked Up and give that another spin. Okay, technically it focused on impending parenthood rather than the actual tour of duty, but believe me – there’s far more entertaining observations and moments of sincerity in Judd Apatow’s hell funny film than this latest Katherine Heigl vehicle – and nobody needed to be made an orphan.
Holly ( Heigl) and Messer ( Josh Duhamel, looking remarkably like Johnny Knoxville in The Dukes of Hazard) are thrust together as parental guardians for oneyear-old Sophie after her parents are killed in a car crash.
Holly and Messer aren’t a couple – they kind of dated once and hated each other – but Sophie’s folks for some reason thought the odd couple chemistry would enhance their child.
The mothering part comes pretty quick to Holly, it’s Messer she finds tough to live with. He, meanwhile, is struggling with the whole scenario and how it cramps his bachelor lifestyle.
This isn’t a comedy about how crazy-awesome-tricky it is to be responsible for a baby, nor is it really about Holly and Messer reassessing what’s important in their lives. Life As We Know It is about the same thing every recent Katherine Heigl movie has been about; an uptight, luckless-in-love control-freak being infuriated by a brashbut-loveable rogue for most of a movie, then realising she loves him in the last five minutes.
Everything else is just set design – including the baby – and the almost two-hour running time is brutal.
Lord knows why Heigl seems committed to playing the same role repeatedly or why writers would come up with something as formulaic and uninspired as this. Yes, there is even a ‘‘ rush to the airport in time’’ sequence.
A couple of scenes manage to muster some emotional reson- ance but the hackneyed bickering between Heigl and Duhamel’s characters is just exhausting, particularly with such little else going on.
The usually solid Josh Lucas is neutered and a little creepy as the sensitive gentleman wooing Holly, while the rest of the supporting cast – who play neighbourhood families – are lazy cliches; over-bearing fat women, delicate gay couple, flirty cougar, etc.
Even Christina Hendricks, so mesmerising in Mad Men, is as bland as baby food.
Repeat performance: Beyond a few dirty nappies there’s little distinguish Life As We Know It from other cookie-cutter rom-coms (many of which also star Katherine Heigl).