I debated the interest people would have in my views on a film like LIFE AS WE KNOW IT. Historically I lean far away from the romantic comedy efforts mainly because they all seem like clones of themselves, but I do my best to give each film I see equal opportunity. I am not ashamed to say that I have indeed enjoyed a romantic comedy on occasion, because I enjoy movies and I am always willing to give a movie props if it makes me laugh. In the end I enjoy the more subtle jokes that some people don’t always pick up on over the obvious chuckle moments. LIFE AS WE KNOW IT is a film that embraces subtle emotion while pandering to the mainstream with its romance and cheaply exploiting out basic emotions with the tragedy that sets the plot into motion, but uses its charm to come out with slightly better than average rom com.
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT starts off with Holly (Katherine Heigl) waiting for a date set up by her best friend with Messer (Josh Duhamel). The date is a complete disaster even though they remain in contact due to their best friends being married together with a child on the way. Holly and Messer are named godparents to their friend’s daughter, Sophie and after a tragic car accident that kills the parents Holly and Messer become the legal guardians of the orphaned Sophie. The two opposites struggle with life complications that come with having a child especially with the tragic way it was thrust upon them. After some adjustments Holly and Messer decide to raise the child their way rather than try to fill the shoes of their deceased friends and discover they may have more feelings for each other than they originally realized.
Admittedly, it’s not entirely fair for me to be judging a genre of film that I tend to view in a negative light. To be a little more equal opportunity I wanted to find an endearing aspect of the film to keep from sounding bitter. The good news is that from my usual standpoint the film is not a complete waste of time even if it does use the same tricks as other films in the genre. Men are not the target demographic for these films and there are many that will be drug to it begrudgingly by their significant others, so fear not there is things for even the most bitter rom com detractors to enjoy to a certain extent, I do not guarantee that you’ll love it though.
Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl are both charming but also border on excessive and over the top at times. There’s always a level of humor you can take away from watching people who are completely clueless when it comes to raising children, the problem is finding the right balance without wearing out the welcome. The baby happened to be the most endearing aspect of the film, while also being almost a prop to force the emotions out of the audience which is also one of my pet peeves about movies that shamelessly exploit our basic human emotions by orphaning a completely innocent and adorable child. I won’t complain much about it because it makes the film more bearable.
The comedy for the most part is pretty generic, but often charming. It’s forgivable because of the various subtle moments and comments by neighbors sitting on the outside looking in on Holly and Messer as they struggle to raise Sophie. The film sneaks in a stereotypical gay couple but often the jokes involving them sneak in on top of another joke or gag or is not prominent to what’s happening on screen. There are also several scenes involving the men in married relationships conveying the things we always notice about our own relationships, which is cliché, but always is good for a fun laugh anytime I see it. One line later on in the film got a big laugh me included when a character spouts a very simple approach of comparing marriage to prison; it’s a joke you hear often when people poke fun at marriage but the comedy comes in the delivery of the line.
There is nothing glamorous about the film, nothing specifically that’s going to have you spontaneously sparking long philosophical conversations about the themes the film presents; it’s simply just an okay exercise in generic comedy with flashes of real human drama and a few genuine chuckles. It’s one of the many films I see every year that I don’t love and I don’t hate, I align at some point near the middle teetering back and forth on the positive and negative sides.
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT is a film with enough entertainment value to justify its existence, but just generic enough to write off just as quickly as it is over. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the film go over big with its target audience with even a few quiet supporters on the back end that won’t admit to enjoying it. This is not poetry in motion so you take the material as is and make the informed decision on where you stand on it, and personally if not for the adorable baby Sophie there isn’t much more separating LIFE As WE KNOW IT from other rom com efforts.