As a parent, one of the most difficult things to consider – and eventually make a decision about – is what to do if something were to happen to Big Guy and I. Who would take the kids? I am a bit embarrassed to say that we haven’t finalized those details. It’s complicated and emotional and we haven’t found an ideal solution. I guess there isn’t really an ideal in a situation like that. With all this in mind, I was a bit nervous about going to see Life As We Know It. In it, a young couple dies in a car crash, leaving their young daughter in the care of their best friends – two single people who can’t stand each other. Despite the grim premise, the movie is actually a romantic dramedy, so I decided to give it a shot and try not to think too deeply about our own family concerns.
Life As We Know It stars Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy, 27 Dresses), Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas, Transformers) and Josh Lucas (Poseidon, Glory Road). Heigl plays Holly, a no-nonsense chef and Duhamel plays Eric, a playboy network sports director. It’s a bit of a Hollywood cliché in terms of romantic comedies, but it works. After a failed attempt at a setup, their best friends decide that it would be wise to name this unlikely couple as guardians for their daughter in the event of their demise. It’s not the smartest of scenarios… there’s no way they could know if Holly and Eric would be married to other people, and neither of them are up for any caregiving awards, but it’s the sort of plotline that you have to accept and even run with in films like this.
Here’s the thing: I’m a sucker for a romantic comedy, even when the premise is absurd. I like Heigl, and Duhamel has a sort of rugged boyish charm, so they were definitely an appealing couple. Despite the grim plot point early in the film, it’s overall a light-hearted movie, suitable for a girl’s night out or even a date night. The romantic moments are suitably engaging and believable and the parent-child bonding was touching to see.
Although I enjoyed the movie, there were some things that bugged me. The first is that they played into male/female stereotypes. Holly is immediately into the idea of being a mom and setting up house, so much so that she puts off her own dreams to do so. Eric is scared by being a parent and falling in love and isn’t willing to flex on his own goals to make it work. It would have been refreshing to see Holly run at the first sign of commitment and have Eric turn out to be uber-dad. Sure, it’s more likely that the woman is going to go goo-goo over the baby, but there are plenty of men who love being dads and who are really good at it. And there are plenty of men who are willing to make sacrifices to put their family first. The second thing is that, in a movie with a relatively serious premise, they still felt the need to rely on “gags” to get a laugh. Eric drops the baby on the floor and we’re supposed to laugh about it. I’d like to have seen him react as any new parent would have done and start panicking. Later, he bribes his cab driver to watch the child. Seriously? Hello, Department of Child Services? It didn’t need to be so absurd to be funny. Had they established a better friendship between these two characters, it could have been funny rather than being a bit uncomfortable.
In the end, I’d recommend the movie to anyone who enjoys a romantic comedy. It’s a feel-good movie and has some moments most parents will relate to. They could have taken it further, I think, and really connected with the parent crowd, but they may have lost the single audience in the process. In any case, it was a fun way to pass a couple of hours. I’d give the movie a 7 out of 10 if I were in the habit of giving out star ratings.
Disclosure: I attended a free advanced screening and will be compensated by Mom Central in exchange for sharing my honest opinion. There was no promise of a positive review and the opinions contained in this post are my own.