“Life as We Know It” was a movie I was not excited to see, but once the lights dimmed and the film began to roll, I became pleasantly surprised. It’s a romantic comedy, which usually means cliché situations that could just never happen in real life and dramatic declarations of undying love and passion that end with a big kiss and a wedding ring. This movie contains a lot of those elements, but it also manages to temper them with big doses of reality that can sometimes come across as harsh.
Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel play Holly and Messer, two singles who discover they must care for the orphaned daughter of their mutual best friends after a deadly car accident. Though this event can be seen as an overly dramatic plot device to force the two characters together, it really isn’t. The movie doesn’t try to make the resulting arrangement look glamorous, and neither character is happy to take on the role as foster parent. They complain, they whine, they moan and groan, and all the while they also have to take care of a very young child who’s dealing with the loss of her parents.
Sophie, the orphaned baby, comes across as more than just part of a plot device. She’s played by a set of triplets from nearby Frederic Maryland who somehow, whether by accident or with the help of very skilled directing, manage do a good job of portraying one very distressed baby. Their character doesn’t just cry to cry or refuses food because she’s simply fussy. It actually feels like there’s a reason she’s upset, which makes her more of a real person instead of just a device to get Heigle and Duhamel living in the same house.
Josh Duhamel’s character was also an interesting performance to watch. He made for a very attractive piece of eye candy, but he turned out to be more than just a pretty face. Messer actually grows and changes as the movie progresses instead of just remaining a vulgar player character like in other films of this genre. I could actually see him falling in love with his new role as a parent figure to Sophie and slowly falling for Holly as well. Holly, however, remained static throughout the movie.
Though she had great chemistry with Duhamel, Heigl’s character didn’t really go anywhere. She remained the cliché controlling, resistant, independent woman from beginning to end, which is one big area where this movie lacks. There’s nothing different about this heroine or the role Katherine Heigle has once again taken on. Perhaps a different actress would have resonated better.
Though the premise has been seen time and time again, “Life as We Know It” rises above it by placing real characters in this unreal situation. You’ll leave this film with a smile as well as interesting ideas as to whom you would leave your only child to in the event of your untimely death.