Life as We Know It

Release Date: October 8, 2010

This is what evil looks like.

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55/190 Max Braden This turned out to be a lot sweeter than I expected it to be.

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There is nothing earth-shatteringly original about this high-concept romantic comedy from Warner Bros. The story follows two career minded young adults – Josh Duhamel as a talented network sports director and Katherine Heigl as a promising caterer – who are both godparents to a young girl. The two go on a date together, but find they are completely incompatible. They must put aside their differences, however, when their mutual friends die in an accident, leaving them as the girl’s caregivers. I have a sneaking suspicion that during the course of 90 minutes, these self-absorbed, career-minded adults will learn what it means to be responsible parents and they will also learn what the really mean to each other (feel free to comment on my uncanny clairvoyance after the film’s release). The somber set-up for romantic comedies can be a mixed bag, with the tone caught somewhere in between serious and sweet, and not always hitting the right notes. Look no further than films like Kate Hudson’s Raising Helen or Queen Latifa’s The Perfect Holiday for evidence of how hard that balance can be.

Since jumping to the A-list with Knocked Up, Heigl, (who might be one of the more shrill and intolerable popular actresses working today) has successful anchored two romantic comedies. Both films, 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth, were critically reviled and yet both opened to the mid $20 millions and both had legs long enough to finish north of $75 million. As much as I hate to say it, Katherine Heigl might actually have star power. Not many actresses, whether or not they had strong male counterparts (which Heigl did have in The Ugly Truth but lacked in 27 Dresses) can claim to have three such successful films in a row. I have a hunch that her star power might fade a little bit this summer with Killers, yet another rom-com, this one co-starring Ashton Kutcher. Killers feels like it will play second-fiddle to the similarly themed Knight & Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

Josh Duhamel, like Heigl, built a name for himself on television before crossing over into features. After supporting turns in both Transformers films Duhamel got his first real chance to prove his worth earlier in 2010 with a co-starring role in another high concept romantic comedy, When In Rome with Kristen Bell. With a $12 million opening weekend and a $32 million total gross for that outing, Duhamel didn’t exactly pass this test with flying colors.

The success of Life As We Know It will depend on the chemistry between Heigl and Duhamel as well as on the number of genuine laughs it provides. As cringe-worthy as most of The Ugly Truth proved to be, it also proved that a single gag (vibrating panties anyone?) that taps into the popular zeitgeist might be enough to raise a film’s performance from mediocre to above average. Above average is probably about as good as this one can hope for, so expect an opening of under $20 million and a gross under $60 million when all is said and done. (Joshua Pasch/BOP)

Vital statistics for Life as We Know It
Main Cast Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas
Supporting Cast Christina Hendricks, Jean Smart
Director Greg Berlanti
Screenwriter Ian Deitchman, Kristin Rusk Robinson, Kristin Rusk Robinson
Distributor Warner Bros. Pictures
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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