Life As We Know It: Berlanti’s Romantic Comedy Starring Katherine Heigel

The new romantic comedy, Life as We Know It, is a step in the right direction for star (and producer) Katherine Heigl, having made so far mostly bad and disappointing flicks (“27 Dresses,” and “The Ugly Truth”).

The on-screen rapport between Heigl and her appealing leading man, Josh Duhamel (also better known for his TV work), makes the slender, formulaic feature slightly more enjoyable than it has the right to be.

Main problem is that the talents involved, both in front and behind the cameras, come from TV and thus approach the already flimsy tale as if it were an extension of their TV work, a 2-hour sitcom
Warner Bros stands a chance to do reasonably well at the box-office this weekend with its mildly amusing PG-13 date movie; too bad that the comedy overextends its welcome by at least 20 minutes.
Gregg Berlanti, better known for his popular TV series (“Brothers and Sisters,” “Everwood” “Jack & Bobby”), joins the league of other TV creators who have tried their hand in making a transition to big-screen fare, not successfully I might say, such as Michael Patrick King, who directed the TV series “Sex and the City” and then the two features based on it, or more recently “Eat Pray Love” helmer Ryan Murphy (who created “Nip/Tuck” and “Glee”).
The tale is based on the overly used concepts of the Odd Couple and Opposites Attract, which describe quite accurately the plot of “Life as We Know It.”  In what’s a variation of previous roles (“Knocked-Up” being the best one), Heigl plays the career-driven Holly Berenson, an up-and-coming restaurateur, who meets Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel), a promising network sports director.
After a rather disastrous blind date, they realize that the only thing they share in common is their dislike for each other. Oh, yes, they both also love and show affection for their goddaughter, Sophie (played by different girls, according to the age of the character).
Like all of Hollywood romantic tales, “Life as We Know It” is schematic and contrived. First-time scribes Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson arrange for an accident, so that poor Sophie becomes orphaned and left all alone in the world, dependent on the good will of Holly and Messer. Predictably, the unanticipated crisis forces the self-centered protagonists to put their egos and differences aside and to devote themselves to a nobler cause.
At first, however, the task is not easy, despite good intentions and public declarations to the contrary. Both Holly and Messer have to juggle career ambitions and competing social calendars.
Rest of the narrative deals with one issue: Will the bickering couple find some common ground while living under one roof.
Blessed with a nice screen presence, Heigl exudes natural charm, though she now needs to develop as a dramatic actress; there’s sameness to all of her performances. Assisted by her mom, Heigl is also a producer of her pictures, but she may not be the best judge for what vehicles are suitable for her talent.
Josh Duhamel also shows improvement, after his appearances in the romantic-comedy “Win a Date With Tad Hamilton” and other inconsequential fluff.More importantly (as you can see in the poster and trailer), boasting a sexy physique, Duhamel’s Messer strips down to his undies and sports gear (he likes to jog), which provides a seductive sight for the film’s female characters and should do the same for the film’s female spectators.
Holly Berenson – Katherine Heigl
Eric Messer – Josh Duhamel
Sophie – Alexis Clagett, Brynn Clagett, Brooke Clagett
Sam – Josh Lucas
Alison Novak – Christina Hendricks
Peter Novak – Hayes MacArthur
Janine Groff – Sarah Burns
A Warner release
Produced by Barry Josephson, Paul Brooks.
Executive producers, Denise Di Novi, Scott Niemeyer, Norm Waitt, Katherine Heigl, Nancy Heigl, Joe Hartwick Jr., Bruce Berman.
Co-producers, Brad Kessell, Alexander Young.
Directed by Greg Berlanti.
Screenplay, Ian Deitchman, Kristin Rusk Robinson.
Camera, Andrew Dunn.
Editor, Jim Page.
Music, Blake Neely.
Production designer, Maher Ahmad; art director, Austin Gorg; set decorator, Cindy Carr. Costume designer, Debra McGuire.
Sound, Mary H. Ellis; supervising sound editor, Karen Baker Landers.
Special effects supervisor, David Fletcher.
Associate producer, Richard Gelfand.
Assistant director, Michael Lerman.
Casting, John Papsidera.
MPAA Rating: PG-13.
Running time: 113 Minutes