Starring: Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Christina Hendricks, Sarah Burns

Director: Greg Berlanti

Writer: Ian Deitchman, Kristin Rusk Robinson

Original Score: Blake Neely

Cinematography: Andrew Dunn

Running Time: 112 mins.

Returning to the same ground she made her name on, baby-based comedies, Katherine Heigl seems to have refound some of what made her charming and watchable in Knocked Up, maybe its just the parental psyche inside but it seems that when it involves a sprog be it hers biologically or adoptively she loses the irritating edge that seems to have been built up over the course of her last few films, weak films at that teaming her with a number of equally smug actors, Ashton Kutcher, Gerard Butler et al. So to see her teamed with Josh Duhamel is refreshing as it provides Duhamel with the kind of exposure he deserves and a personality likeable enough to offset Heigl’s more smug leanings to the point of almost-non-existence.

Though formula wise this is effectively the rom-com by numbers, boy meets girl, boy and girl are mismatched until (low and behold) something brings them together and makes them realise their true feelings. Thankfully plot-wise it stretches beyond the usual rom-com beats, for a start the main narrative catalyst (the death of a couple) is not the usual quirky event which helps in veering us close to something more engaging than a holiday scenario or the arrival of a quirky family member. There is some debate as to how tasteful, let alone realistic, the adoption of a baby by the mismatched best friends is but when it is served up so well who am I to complain, after all a film is designed to entertain is it not…

So while plot is intriguing and sufficiently original in situation the plot inevitably takes over in the final act as “true love” finds precedent over baby-care, thankfully the darkly tinged strain of humour never lets up and bar a few body-fluid based gags they are a little more witty than the baby-poo on the face seen in the trailer, something which is both fitting given the tragedy in the setup and the down-to-earth down that the makers seem to lean towards. Of course all this would stand for very little were your central couple unlikable or lacking in chemistry, something Heigl and Duhamel have no problems in avoiding. The slow build of their relationship is keenly observed so as not to sledgehammer things home (well, not until the end at least), and while Heigl is watchable and able in generating chemistry with Duhamel it is the man himself who wins it for the film.

Since Transformers he certainly looked the part, all lanter-jawed and 6 foot-odd but was given very little to do in the acting department, subsequent roles have offered little more and a role in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen saw him do even less. Then came When In Rome which flopped big style, all of which leaves Life As We Know It for him to make his mark, and he does so with aplomb. He is the man Gerard Butler so badly wanted to be in The Ugly Truth, a real man’s man, one of the lads, but smooth with the ladies, but beyond this is the warmth of character and actual acting talent that marks him out as actually better than the film itself, on this evidence we could well be seeing Hollywood’s next leading man…expect the superhero role sooner rather than later!

VERDICT

Refreshingly down-to-earth in the rom-com department, Life As We Know It, thankfully putting character before irksome lovey-dovey scenes for the most part and proving Josh Duhamel as a great, and hugely like-able, actor.

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