What’s wrong with Katherine Heigl? The former TV star destroyed her Grey’s Anatomy career last season (seriously, what was the point of having Izzy survive cancer?), and bit by bit is ruining her chances at cinema stardom. A talented actress, Heigl has dissolved into the female equivalent of Matthew McConaughey, starring in dumb, predictable rom coms that offer little more than a few moments pleasure for bored housewives attempting to relive the “glory days” of falling in love.
Since her breakout hit, 2007’s Knocked Up, Heigl has starred in 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth, Killers and now Life as We Know It. I’m cheering for the actress, I truly am; but her resume gives me little, if any, hope for the future, as each of her films has swiftly decreased in quality. My review after the jump:
Life as We Know It pairs Heigl alongside Josh Duhamel (that guy from Transformers), and the two make a competent couple. Unfortunately the plot, centering around the pair taking on the child of some recently deceased friends, affords them little to work with. Duhamel plays Eric, a laid back dude who works for an NBA team – he presses the button to change cameras – has a seemingly unlimited amount of money, and always looks primed for a photo shoot. Heigl plays Holly; a headstrong, but ultimately uptight single woman, one who never has any luck with the guys. Uh-huh.
The problem here is that neither Eric nor Holly is a believable character. They resemble the typical Hollywood couple – cute, refined, rich, and perfect in every aspect of the word – one whose situation revolves around a typical Hollywood dilemma. The typical “will he come back” moment lacks the punch of, say, Roger Michell’s Notting Hill (1999), or Rob Reiner’s terrific When Harry Met Sally … (1989) because Life as We Know It’s plot, characters and situations ultimately lack authenticity.
For example, what sane man would quit a job with the Phoenix Suns because his non-wife, casual lover tells him to? What sane causal, non-wife lover would force her non-husband to do such a thing? Especially when he makes plenty of money to support them both? Can’t she move her catering business elsewhere? Of course not, because neither Eric nor Holly rely on logic to make decisions, just a poorly written script.
Films of this nature bother me because it always falls on the man to “make the right choice.” Never do we see the woman give up her life to join her male companion, because that would, like, totally be unfair. Instead, it’s the man who must give up everything to be with the woman. On the flip side of that statement, the female characters cannot live without their man, and spend the entire third act (or, in the case of Twilight, the entire second film) pining after their lost love.
Of course everything that’s wrong with Life can be found on the movie’s poster, which features Duhamel in tighty whities sipping a beer, whilst Heigl laughs and chases her baby through the house. Why not just add a cute little puppy, or a little kitten? I remember seeing that poster and thinking, “Who the hell would want to see that?”
I mentioned When Harry Met Sally … a film that follows similar plot threads, but does so in a fresh, ultimately rewarding way. By the end of that film you cared about Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan), and whether or not they ended up together. They were real human beings with relatable problems and situations.
By the end of Life as We Know It, a possessed demon could have come and broken Duhamel’s neck, thrown Heigl into the camera and stolen the baby and I wouldn’t have given a damn.
I will say this: Heigl better jump back onboard Judd Apatow’s good graces, otherwise she’ll eventually end up starring alongside Adam Sandler.
For this review I watched the Blu-ray edition. The film looks great – I know that’s kind of a basic remark, but hey what the hell … The picture quality is solid; the colors vibrant.
The special features offer nothing to get excited about. In one bit, actors Christina Hendricks and Hayes MacArthur (who play the “goofy” neighbors) offer some humorous device on parenting. The piece feels more promotional than anything, as it intercuts their advice with clips from the film. There’s a bit praising Katherine Heigl both on and off-camera; and another featuring Duhamel and the babies in the film; and, to top it off, fifteen minutes of deleted scenes. None of these are really worth your time, but at least you get a digital copy!