Life exhibits formulaic romance narrative

Life as We Know It, starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, is a pleasant enough romantic comedy. It breaks no ground and does not seek to. It plays out exactly as expected, offering few twists and commensurate laughs.

Shot in Atlanta, keen-eyed filmgoers will spot various recognizable locales including Virginia Highlands and Philips Arena. Although the film is supposed to be set in Atlanta, it does not have an Atlanta feel. It could have easily been another city without any consequence.

Heigl’s character Holly is a driven business owner. Duhamel’s character Eric is a laid-back “technical director” of Hawks broadcasts. They are each pretty much archetypes without much more characterization. By the end of the movie, neither main character seems to have changed or learned anything from the experience.

The concept of the film is actually marginally interesting. The film centers on a man and a woman who both are best friends with a married couple. Being such good friends with a mutual party, they are acquainted, but they do not like each other.

In fact, while they really despise each other, they also obviously complement each other so well they have to end up together at the end of the neatly packaged two hours.

They are forced to live together after the married couple dies and leaves their house and baby daughter to this ying-yang couple. Comedy ensues when the two opposite personalities clash.

And clash they do. Watching these characters coexist in close proximity of each other is the most interesting part of the film. Each observes the other’s life while living like nothing much has changed. These characters are total opposites and being exposed to the other’s lifestyle and habits proves trying. What brings these two together is their love for their best friends’ child.

They figure out how to be parents together. They each make a sacrifice to do what is best for the toddler, the common ground that keeps both parties in check. Both foster parents clearly want the best for their new child but also have budding careers to nurture.

However, even though it is the most interesting part of the movie, the premise cannot help but feel more than a little contrived; the death, the will and the personalities just seems too cutesy. Two perfect foils, forced to cohabitate unromantically? Remind anyone else of The Odd Couple?

The movie is totally and completely predictable. It generally plays out exactly as it seems like it should. However, the film actually does not start with the death of the biological parents but with the first meeting of the star-crossed lovers.

Obviously, this goes terribly, setting the tone for their relationship. By the time the parents die, the audience cares for them as the parents and feels the awkwardness when the godparents step in.

There is also a weird and random relationship Holly has with another suitor. She is obviously supposed to end up with Eric (to make an ideologically perfect family unit), so why is the audience teased with this other possible relationship?

Heigl and Duhamel work well off each other; their interaction keeps the audience interested in an otherwise very mediocre story. These actors portray a bickering couple well.

Eventually, the movie wraps up and the cheerful music plays. Did the characters change? Well, obviously they are parents now. But they were basically parents before, too.

Did the audience feel an emotional cleansing? Only by formula; like a traffic light, it may be red, but it is going to turn green again, so do not fret. And that is really what Life as We Know It is: a brief, humdrum distraction with a predictable result.

Really only an exercise and a paycheck, this movie could have not been made and only those hired by the production would have felt the difference.

This is not a movie someone was waiting to see. Do not expect anything groundbreaking or revolutionary.

Fellas, it is easy enough to stomach on a date. If nothing else, there is plenty of screen-time of babies being cute.