All you really need to know about Life as We Know It is that it falls into two categories: romantic comedy and the subgenre of “cute baby” movie. Unfortunately, the entire film runs on rails, never doing anything new or interesting. As a result, the movie’s competent enough, but slogging your way through competence can get pretty dull.
Life as We Know It opens with stodgy, uptight Holly (Katherine Heigl) being set up on a blind date with Messer (Josh Duhamel), an unkempt womanizer. Of course, things go disastrously, but the two are forced to remain in each other’s lives to a certain extent because of their mutual, married friends Peter (Hayes MacArthur, She’s Out of My League) and Alison (Christina Hendricks, TV’s Mad Men).
The movie turns the lives of Holly and Messer upside down when Peter and Alison unexpectedly die in a car accident. On top of that, Holly and Messer learn that Peter and Alison have left their toddler, Sophie, in their custody. High jinks ensue as Holly and Messer are forced not only to cohabitate, but learn to raise a child in the bargain.
The comedy consists of the usual sassy odd-couple-type tête-à-têtes and adventures in child rearing—meaning you get the greatest hits of parenting, including, but not limited to, grown adults being splattered in all types of infantile bodily fluids on multiple occasions. The entire movie has the feel of a sitcom (and that’s no wonder, seeing as how the bulk of director Greg Berlanti’s work has been in television), right down to the phony sentimentality that pops up from time to time. The constant, bizarre use of soft focus doesn’t help. Besides making the movie look like a ‘70s skin flick, it lends a mawkish air to the proceedings.
The eventual payoff is exactly what you would expect: Holly and Messer fall for one another, become a family and so on and so forth. It’s none too exciting, but some of this might have been overcome with a stronger cast. Katherine Heigl still can’t make her prudish old-maid act believable, while Josh Duhamel simply doesn’t have the proper gravitas to be a convincing romantic lead. For a movie that’s in such desperate need of romantic chemistry, the duo’s romance sizzles about as much as a baking-soda volcano.
Life as We Know It is formulaic and forgettable, but generally painless. Still, that’s hardly a recommendation. Rated PG-13 for sexual material, language and some drug content.