21 October 2010

Being Of Unsound Mind- LIFE AS WE KNOW IT Review

"WAAAAAAH." (attribute needed)
Katherine Heigl hasn't done herself any favours with her acting career. After lambasting the writers who made her a star with Knocked Up, she's gone on to become typecast in romcoms as an anal, shrewish single woman who's dependent on finding a man for happiness. Guess what? Life as We Know It is another Heigl film about an anal, shrewish single woman, the dickhead with whom she's forced into an uneasy emotional entente, and her insane late friends.

We meet Holly and Masser on a disastrous first date- there's no way in a million years that they should ever be together, but they're in a romantic comedy, so I guess we'll see how that pans out. Their only real connection to one another is that they're mutually friends with blissful new parents Peter and Alison, who die in a car accident and orphan their one-year-old daughter Sophie. Funny, right? Well, the wacky part is this- they bequeathed the custody of Sophie to their two hateful buddies, together. Uh ohhhh!

The plot is a matter of absurd, nay, perverse contrivance. It's duly noted that the death of both parents was an unlikely event, but if you bother to make a will that could control the fate of your only begotten child, do you really choose two people who hate each other, to say nothing of their utter lack of parenting skills or their constant surprise at the smell of baby shit? Hell, I'd say Peter and Alison tempted fate, and fate gives them the horns around half an hour in by way of traffic smiting. What follows thereafter is an hour and a half of Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel being astonished by nappies and bickering.

If it doesn't sound like a recipe for hilarity, that's because it's not. It's the most cloying and tenuous film I've seen since Remember Me, and it's oddly selfish in the way it goes about it too. You'd think that it would be very selfless of two grieving acquaintances to accept responsibility over a child's upbringing in real life, but not in this film. Mostly because neither of our romantic leads can shut the hell up about how this has affected them. If we had one of them dutifully committing to put the child first and the other being selfish to the point of an inevitable epiphany, it might have been watchable. But no, all Heigl and Duhamel can muster is bickering dialogue and self-important claptrap.

It's an important realisation when you can see Heigl turning people on screen with her into the same empty character she's been recycling for the last four films or so. Josh Duhamel, that army guy from Transformers, seems like a pretty open and charismatic screen presence elsewhere, but as Masser, he's as repressed as Heigl's Holly. This is one of those films where no one is savvy to anything recognisable as human behaviour, keeping back simple admissions for the sake of building to one of a million weak punchlines. Sarah Burns' somewhat overplayed social worker becomes one of the few bright spots when she points out that they're being cagey for nothing- their troubles are nothing compared to the "tranny hookers" she normally supervises.

There's maybe one reason why parents would hand their child over to these two- because they'd make a good looking couple. Not a good couple, just an ostensibly pretty one. This in contrast to the stereotypical neighbours we see here, and that's another place where the film just alienated me completely- it's trying to win us over with gags about gay adoption, overbearing matriarchs and in one throwaway instance, bipolar disorder. None of those gags hit the mark, and nor does anything else the screenwriters throw at us- the film is just singularly unfunny, unaccomplished and unworthy.

Life As We Know It might as well take place on another planet, except for how it keeps its head firmly buried in the romantic comedy play-book. The only real difference, aside from the unorthodox and ornery premise, is how long it takes to get there. This has the bizarre effect of making a mawkish movie feel sterile all the same. We get the Other Guy, and the Wacky Best Friend, and the Dash To The Fucking Airport, but over a tortuous two hours. At least Heigl's other 2010 outing, Killers, was reasonably short. As for this, it's life, Jim, but definitely not as we know it.

Life as We Know It is now showing in selected cinemas nationwide.
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If you've seen Life as We Know It, why not share your comments below? If you think I've been harsh on this, it's because I'm crying on the inside. You can cheer me up by befriending Christina Hendricks. Just tell her that she and I have to be together, then die suddenly. Surely this logic cannot fail.

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

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