Friday, October 8, 2010
Rating: PG-13 for sexual material, language and some drug content.
Length: One hour, 55 minutes.
Theater: Southwind 12 Theaters, 3433 Iowa St.
Katherine Heigl has again been saddled with an unexpected baby, only this time, no one is going to call her parenting mate a schlub.
Unlike Heigl’s “Knocked Up” co-star, Seth Rogen, Josh Duhamel is emphatically in her league. In “Life as We Know It,” they have a good and believable chemistry as opposites pushed together through fate.
Both have handsome, movie-star presence and keep the film entertaining, even though its familiar story passes with nothing to distinguish itself from the many other similarly plotted movies and sitcoms.
Heigl (“27 Dresses,” TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”) plays Holly Berenson, a well-dressed professional — the kind of character that seems to be her specialty. As Eric Messer, Duhamel (“Transformers,” TV’s “Las Vegas”) is also a gender stereotype: the immature, promiscuous jock.
After a disastrous blind date set up by their mutual friends (Christina Hendricks, Hayes MacArthur), Holly and Messer (as he’s called) settle into years of mutual annoyance, hardly tolerating each other as fellow godparents at weddings and birthdays.
When their friends die in a car accident, Holly and Messer are named as guardians to their baby girl. In the kind of absurd twist that only happens in romantic comedies, they accept guardianship and move into their friends’ Atlanta house in separate bedrooms.
From this point, everything proceeds exactly as you’d expect: antics with diapers; anxious speeches over kitchen sinks; and — spoiler alert! — gradual heartwarming toward each other and their makeshift family.
The main contribution from director Greg Berlanti (a TV veteran who co-wrote the upcoming superhero flick “Green Lantern”) and writers Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson is a simplistic, unhurried tone.
After “Knocked Up,” Heigl famously wondered if the film was sexist and painted women as humorless. But in “Life as We Know It,” she fails badly in the scenes in which she’s given room to be funny, particularly one where she’s drunk when a case worker (Sarah Burns) visits.
Melissa McCarthy, as a polite but blunt neighbor, and Burns, seemingly mousy but also very direct, show far better comedic chops in supporting roles.
Heigl is still a pleasure to watch, though. She has a knack for smart, anxious characters, and one suspects she’ll eventually find the right romantic comedy that properly showcases her talents without hoisting motherhood on her.
It’s also a familiar genre to Duhamel, a former model whose tall, muscular build and proclivity for baseball caps make him a natural stand-in for the ESPN-addled male. He has the good sense not to depend too much on his good looks.
A sports broadcast control room operator, his big dilemma comes when he’s offered a job with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. But when it comes to bachelor life or fatherhood, does Steve Nash stand a chance against the Wiggles?