AWFJ Women On Film – “Life As We Know It” – Review by Susan Granger

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This romantic dramedy about two unlikely parents begins with a dreadful blind date when Alison (“Mad Men’s” Christina Hendricks) and her husband Peter Novak (Hayes MacArthur) fix up their respective best friends, Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) and Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel). Holly’s an uptight baker who owns an upscale pastry shop, while Messer (as he likes to be called) is an up-and-coming TV sports director and slick womanizer. It’s loathe-at-first-sight for this mismatched couple, who are subsequently forced to tolerate each other at Novak family gatherings and festivities.

But when Alison and Peter die in an automobile accident, they leave the care of their beloved baby daughter Sophie to her two godparents. That’s the unsuspecting, self-absorbed and decidedly ambivalent Holly and Messer. Despite their mutual animosity, rather than have orphaned Sophie turned over to child protective services, they move into the Novaks’ suburban Atlanta home and gamely learn all about raising a child with the encouragement of their underage ‘baby-whispering’ babysitter (Britt Flatmo), understandably nosy neighbors (Melissa McCarthy, Andrew Daly, Will Sasso) and vaguely disapproving – and threatening – social worker (Sarah Barnes). But then ambitious Messer is offered a lucrative job in Arizona and lonely Holly finds herself attracted to Sam (Josh Lucas), their sensitive, empathetic pediatrician. What eventually happens is a foregone conclusion.

Written by first-time scribes Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson, it’s directed by Greg Berlanti (“The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy”), who’s best known for producing TV’s “Everwood,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “Eli Stone,” “Jack & Bobby,” and “Brothers & Sisters.” Berlanti’s sit-com expertise elevates this highly improbable, formulaic, predictable story, which begins with a realistically tragic premise. And there’s an undeniable combative chemistry between Katherine Heigl (“Knocked Up,” “27 Dresses,” TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”) and Josh Duhamel (“Transformers,” “When in Rome,” TV’s Las Vegas”), while the scene-stealing triplets (Alexis, Brynn and Brooke Clagett) playing Sophie are utterly irresistible.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Life As We Know It” is a shallow yet sweetly sentimental 6, a mildly amusing date movie.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.