Published Oct 07, 2010Somewhere out there is a massive fish bowl, or perhaps a South Park manatee aquarium, full of random ridiculous ideas for romantic comedy shenanigans, randomly matching up vague archetypes and contrived scenarios in a mad conspiracy to convince the public that happiness comes from a life of compromise and thwarted expectations.
Who better to envision this particularly convoluted, even misogynistic mad scientist concoction than the man behind the frighteningly heteronormative Brothers & Sisters and clichéd gay melodrama Broken Hearts Club, Greg Berlanti.
To set things up, Life as We Know It starts with a blind date between aging frat boy Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) and (taming of the) shrew Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl). Of course, they don't get along; how could they? She looks like she reads and he's a man-whore douche straight out of Swingers.
But, as the trailer spells out, the pair are forced into domesticity when their married best friends die, leaving them their baby. Poopy diapers, romantic sparks and a life of strained complacency ensue.
It's the compartmentalized, streamlined notion of quotidian bliss here that appals so much. Heigl dives into an antiquated feminine wish fulfilment fantasy, getting the "dream" without having to land a man, go through the rigmarole of dating rules and leg-shaving crises or deal with those pesky stretch marks that crapping out a kid inevitably bring. It's like a commercial for how this can all be yours if you just settle for less.
Despite being little more than processed television cheese, both leads do their jobs, bringing a bit of vitality to their cardboard cut-out roles, and Berlanti handles moments of presumed chemistry with the appropriate level of lingering, catalogue-porn aesthetics. Sure, there's not a single funny moment and the tone vacillates between melodramatic and kooky like a manic-depressive off their meds, but there have been worse films made that follow this tired, somewhat insulting formula.
Oh, and what's with the poster? It looks like a still from My Name is Earl. (Warner)