[Nameplate] Mostly Cloudy ~ 83°F  
High: 88°F ~ Low: 72°F
Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Duhamel, Heigl's charm shines in rom-com

Thursday, October 7, 2010

(Photo)
Josh Duhamel stars as Eric Messer in the new Warner Bros. romantic comedy "Life as We Know It" in theaters Friday. [Order this photo]
By CAINE GARDNER

Film Critic

If you were to look up formulaic romantic comedy, undoubtedly you would stumble across Warner Bros. Picture's latest release "Life as We Know It."Luckily for the director Greg Berlanti and screenwriters Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson, Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl come to the rescue.

After a disastrous first meeting, Messer (Duhamel) and Holly (Heigl) find themselves thrown together, their lives changed forever when their best friends Peter (Hayes MacArthur) and Alison (Christina Hendricks) are killed in a car accident. Compounding their issues of grief is the fact the couple left guardianship of their child Sophie (played by a trio of tots) to Messer and Holly.

Messer is the proverbial guy's guy. He works for the Atlanta Hawks, beds a different lady every night, all the while breezing carefree through life. Holly owns a bakery and has been trying to connect with a handsome stranger Sam (Josh Lucas), who visits the shop daily. Now the duo must shack up in the same house to raise Sophie.

As they struggle to find the way to bring up a child, the two predictably begin to connect, but a job offer splits the twosome before anything can really get going. But now the once lady's man Messer finds himself longing for the two ladies he never wanted in his life in the first place. Also, the strong-willed Holly finds she prefers the messy-haired Messer over Dr. Sam and races to tell him before he jets back to his new job in Phoenix.

It's said that a screenplay should have something major happen in the first five to 10 pages, but Deitchman and Robinson must have missed that lesson somewhere along the line.

Berlanti could have easily cut the first 10 minutes of the film and made a tighter film that lost one of the most out of place set-up scenes in recent memory. Instead of showing how the riff between Messer and Holly came about in a quick sequence, which he ends up doing anyway, the director sets up the action with a rambling opening that almost leaves the audience behind.

That being said, once the movie gets going, the charm of Heigl and especially Duhamel is enough to pull what could be a mediocre romcom from the ashes and give us something with a charisma that exceeds beyond all its limitations.

Heigl and Duhamel make the most of their thinly written characters and give performances that are impressive. Heigl seems locked in to the same type of roles, but for the first time, I didn't find her utterly annoying. It might sound harsh, but when you play the same role continuously, the act gets old really quick. In "Know It," she is able to rise above and show some truly moving moments.

Duhamel is the real deal in my book. It's easy to overlook Duhamel as just another pretty-faced action hero, but his turns in "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton," "Turistas" and "Ramona and Beezus" show the actor has range and should possibly be given the key to a franchise, maybe such as a certain superhero with blue tights, red cape and an yellow 'S' emblazoned on his chest. Just thinking out loud here.

Final Cut: Charming turns from Duhamel and Heigl save what is a weak, formulaic script and sitcom quality directing and delivers a film with heart that should snare its share of its opening weekend box office.

4 out of 5 stars

Life as We Know It

Starring: Josh Duhamel, Katherine Heigl, Josh Lucas, Alexis Clagett, Brynn Clagett, Brooke Clagett, Hayes MacArthur, Christina Hendricks, Sarah Burns

Director: Greg Berlanti

Writer: Ian Deitchman, Kristin Rusk Robinson

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual material, language and some drug content

In theaters Friday