After such appalling recent fare as The Bounty Hunter and The Switch, the romantic comedy genre appears to be running on fumes these days, but Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel are valiantly attempting to squeeze yet another rom-com effort from the tank with Life As We Know It.
The movie is basically yet another variant on the standard mismatched-partners plot – Heigl’s uptight café owner and Duhamel’s laid-back jock are your typical chalk ‘n’ cheese pairing – but director Greg Berlanti and first-time writers Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson throw in a wheeze borrowed from the 1987 Diane Keaton vehicle Baby Boom to give their creation some semblance of distinction.
Heigl’s Holly and Duhamel’s Messer first meet when their mutual best friends, Alison (Christina Hendricks, Mad Men’s magnificent Joan, wasted here) and Peter (Hayes MacArthur, real-life spouse of Heroes‘ Ali Larter), set them up on a blind date. The date is a disaster, aborted in mutual animosity almost before it begins. Yet a couple of years later the duo get thrown together by the ‘inherit-a-baby’ plot contrivance.
Alison and Peter conveniently cop it in a car crash, leaving Holly and Messer as reluctant co-guardians of the dead spouses’ infant daughter, Sophie. How will this odd couple cope with the tot? More importantly, how will they cope with each other?
Having gone out of their way to paint the pair as opposites – she’s the glam proprietor of a chi-chi café with the tooth-achingly cute name Fraîche; he’s a scruffy desk jockey for network TV sports – the filmmakers now show them rubbing along surprisingly well. How long will it be before it dawns on them that they don’t just love Sophie, they –duh! – love each other too?
Almost two hours is the answer, which is way too long for a rom-com. If you have a taste for poop and projectile-vomit jokes, however, you’ll find some chuckles along the way. Transformers hunk Duhamel proves likeable, though, and Heigl is a lot less irritating than she was in The Ugly Truth, but it’s a shame she seems content to play the same OCD-type roles again and again. If you’re a fan of the genre, Life As We Know It passes muster, but don’t go out of your way to hire a babysitter.
On general release from 8th October.