Life As We Know It

Life As We Know It. Starring Katherine Heigel, Josh Duhamel and Josh Lucas.. Directed by Greg Berlanti. Rated M (sexual references, drug references). 114 mins

Here we are again in that most familiar Hollywood territory — romantic comedy land in which a couple who bicker and squabble cannot see what is perfectly clear to the audience: namely, that they really, truly love one another and will be well on the road to happy-ever-afterwards before the end credits.

Only in this case, there is a new wrinkle: they have a baby to raise.

Katherine Heigel and Josh Duhamel, an engaging, agreeable pair of actors, play the central characters.  She is Holly Berenson, proprietor of an Atlanta gourmet food shop called Fraiche, who is working hard to expand it into a restaurant. He is Eric Messer, who directs TV sportscasts and just rolls through life as a carefree playboy.

Their mutual friends, a married couple, set them up on a blind date, which is a disaster. They still maintain a friendship because of their married friends, but romantically involved they are not.

Then their friends are killed in an auto accident, leaving 12-month-old Sophie an orphan. To Holly and Messer’s surprise, their friends have named them in their will as joint guardians of the tot, and so they move into their friends’ home and undertake to become surrogate parents while sleeping in separate rooms.

You can predict what happens from then on.  The bickering escalates as the inexperienced pair struggle with the worst aspects of parenting — the child refusing to eat, infantile regurgitation, foul nappies, the Wiggles etc. — but all the while their mutual love for the child is drawing them closer to one another, despite the presence of a handsome doctor (Josh Lucas) who makes a pitch for Holly.

The screenplay by Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson exploits the premise well enough without hitting any great heights. The movie a bit too long and the ending is pure Hollywood hokum, but for the most part the geniality of the cast and the smooth direction by Greg Berlanti are sufficient to carry the day. In fact, when Holly and Messer eventually locked lips at the preview I attended there was a small outbreak of applause from the (mostly female) audience— a fair sign that this is a  movie that hits its target.

Mr Jim Murphy is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.


Out October 21 2010

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