Life As We Know It premiered in theaters today, pulling on the heart strings of everyone with at least an ounce of maternal or paternal instinct. Stars Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel are perfect as a mismatched pair. No one would ever put these two together intentionally. Both the stars themselves and their roles here are just too different. But the love of their friends finds a way to keep pushing them back together again.
Even without a strong pull on the parental feelings, most people can’t resist a cute baby, and Life As We Know It has plenty of “awww” moments throughout. Originally, Holly (Heigl) and “Messer” (Duhamel) meet on a blind date, being set up by her best friend Alison and his best friend Peter who are married. It goes miserably for them, as she’s dressed to the nines and insists on driving in her smart car, and he’s dressed in a baseball cap, an hour late, and expecting the two of them to drive on his motorcycle. He makes up an excuse to get out of it, saying a friend is sick, but she realizes it for what it is, that he’d making a booty call with someone else.
The two just can’t get away from each other so easy, though. As the best friends of Allison and Peter, they’re invited to everything, as they’re shown in videos of the wedding reception with Messer ruining Holly’s toast, Christmas parties with Messer teasing Holly, and at the first birthday of Allison and Peter’s little girl, Sophie. They seem to be each other’s cross to bear.
Tragedy hits this group of friends when Allison and Peter have a tragic car accident, killing them. Luckily baby Sophie had been at the sitter’s, so her life was spared. Unbeknownst to Holly and Messer, they weren’t just godparents, they were also named in the will as the new guardians of Sophie should anything happen to Allison and Peter.
With busy lives of their own, Holly running her own bakery, and Messer working as an assistant director of televised Atlanta Hawks home games, they don’t have lives custom-made for a baby … or each other. Yet realizing their only choices of family to care for Sophia are a grandfather on an oxygen tank, a cousin who already has nine children, and another cousin who is an exotic dancer, Holly and Messer have no choice but to try and make a go of it raising Sophie on their own.
Of course, raising Sophie together means they also have to live together, something these former enemies can’t imagine doing. They’re incredulous that their friends thought this would work and figure it to be a “compelling psych experiment.” Holly is still just as controlling, wanting everything done her way, and Messer is still just as freewheeling, to the extent of asking the cabdriver to babysit Sophie in the cab while he goes to work at the Hawks game.
As the two figure out how to make a go of this unique family, they employ a lot of humor along the way, such as Messer complaining he’s been good. Women he’d sleep with would tell him it’s okay not to use a condom, but he’d insist on always using one, and “I still end up with the kid.” Unlike some films where all the funnier bits are used up in the trailer, this one has more. The neighbor tells the other dads, “If I knew where the Wiggles lived, and I’m working on it, I’d murder them with an AK47.”
But even more than the humor, it’s the pull of emotions that grabs you in the film, watching this little baby grow from a one-year-old, to taking her first steps, to saying her first words, to her second birthday. There were also “awww” moments throughout that included Heigl and Duhamel getting closer and showing some great chemistry together, and also going through the pain of losing their best friends. At one particularly tough moment, Holly says, “It’s killing me that I can’t call my friend.”
In the end, they prove that a unique family is just that. They’re still a family, no matter what the circumstances or order in which it played out. Loving people living together in one household are still a family in the end.
If you’re a Katherine Heigl fan, read up on where her career is headed since the end of her time on Grey’s Anatomy at Katherine Heigl Done With Grey’s Anatomy, Film Career In Full Swing.