Jen's Rating:

3.0

Charming despite the clichés.

Who's In It: Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Hayes MacArthur, Christina Hendricks, Melissa McCarthy, Rob Huebel, DeRay Davis, Kumail Nanjiani, Andrew Daly, Will Sasso, Bill Brochtrup, Majandra Delfino, Jessica St. Clair, Reggie Lee, Sarah Burns, Britt Flatmo, the Clagett triplets

The Basics: Katherine Heigl is Holly, a slightly less neurotic version of every rom-com heroine Katherine Heigl's ever played. Josh Duhamel is Messer, the kind of good looking bachelor who goes by his last name and wears baseball caps 24-7. Holly and Messer hate each other, until the day they start falling in love because they've been raising their dead besties' baby together. The love takes a while to kick in, so there's plenty of bickering, mutual loathing, tenuous friendship-making, and poop jokes to fill the spaces in between.

What's The Deal: The most surprising thing about Life as We Know It is that it's more of a romantic dramedy than a romantic comedy, which elevates it above the usual fluffy drivel we've come to expect from the genre. The early deaths of Holly and Messer's mutual friends (Christina Hendricks and Hayes MacArthur) loom over the film with an appropriate weight; it's as if Heigl and Duhamel's well-worn movie personas -- the neurotic single gal, the charming bachelor -- have been plucked from their respective inane rom-com domains and dropped into a world more resembling real life. Sure, the genre clichés abound, especially once Holly and Messer do "it" and become emotionally entangled. And yes, there's a high stakes race against the clock to the airport to bring the film to its predictable conclusion. But is this the worst Hollywood has spit out of late? No. It's not the best either, but we hardcore movie romantics take what we can get.

When It Feels Most Like Every Other Rom-Com Out There: Whenever the cast of colorful supporting characters, all played by comedians or comic actors, show up like an inane suburban Greek chorus. Mostly they're used for laughs about the misery of marriage and parenthood and how hot Josh Duhamel is, led by Melissa McCarthy as a domineering Queen Bee neighbor. Also, when Katherine Heigl answers the door with baby poop on her face.

Why Heigl Is Less Annoying Here Than She Is In 27 Dresses/The Ugly Truth/Killers: For all of the clichés she has to act out, Heigl's graciously allowed to stretch her dramatic chops every now and then. Screenwriters Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson give Heigl emotional moments that most closely call to mind her early days on Grey's Anatomy, before it jumped the shark. After the string of shrill and desperate characters she's played in her post-Knocked Up career, this is a more toned down and likable Heigl.

Look At It This Way: At least it's not about shopping, marriage, landing the perfect man, biological clocks ticking, bringing couture to the Middle East, or winning a date with Tad Hamilton.

Declaring A Moratorium On: The Taken by Trees version of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine," which plays over the film's ending. Anyone who's seen the trailer for last year's Last House On the Left should understand why this delightfully soft loving ode to the bond between parent and child has been forever perverted for everyone for the rest of time.

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