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The baby steals the show in ‘Life As We Know It’

Maija Gustin | Tuesday, October 26, 2010

1.5 out of 4 Shamrocks

The Katherine Heigl-starring “Life as We Know It” really isn’t that terrible. But don’t get your hopes up. It’s not great, either. It’s exhaustingly predictable and features just about every romantic comedy trope that exists. It is exactly the kind of un-clever and cheesy movie that is killing the romantic comedy genre and yet brings in millions of dollars at the box office nonetheless.

However, it does have a few redeeming qualities. Katherine Heigl as Holly is not nearly as annoying as she usually is. Though far from charming, she doesn’t reach the depths of grating irritability that she has mastered in some of her other performances. She’s still hard to like, but she at least makes an effort in “Life As We Know It.” It helps that she’s a chef and makes really delicious-looking cakes.

On the other hand, Josh Duhamel really is charming. His perpetual-bachelor character has been seen a million times over in all sorts of movies, but Duhamel has enough charisma and swagger to make Eric Messer endearing and sympathetic. And the baby at the heart of the movie, Sophie, is too cute to not love. Played by triplets, Sophie steals the movie from her first scene on.

Alison and Peter are married, and Holly and Eric are their respective best friends. Alison and Peter once had the noble intention to set their best friends up. The date, however, went horribly and they didn’t even make it to the restaurant. Several years later, they are godparents to Sophie, though they still conveniently hate each other.

When Sophie’s parents die in a car accident, Holly and Eric must move in and raise Sophie together. The ending is predictable, but “Life” hits some bumps and wins some laughs on the way. Most notably, Holly and Eric find themselves surrounded by a group of neighbors trying to help out. Led by Melissa McCarthy (“Gilmore Girls”) as a Southern housewife, the neighbors bring more laughs than either of the stars. Josh Lucas as Sam, Sophie’s attractive pediatrician, enters the picture for the necessary love triangle.

So yes, “Life as We Know It” is cheesy, formulaic and doesn’t pack any clever surprises. But, to its credit, it’s still entertaining. Director Greg Berlanti, known for work with television shows like “Everwood” and “Brothers & Sisters,” knows how to create romantic and domestic comedy, drawing on everything from poop to pot to generate laughs.

For those who enjoy romantic comedies about mismatched lovers, “Life as We Know It” will probably fit the bill completely — it’s cute, it’s funny and baby Sophie is adorable. Putting a baby into the middle of a romantic comedy at least makes it feel like the generic plot line has changed a little. Or maybe the baby just distracts from it.

For those who don’t tear up at corny happy endings, stay away. Katherine Heigl may not be as annoying as usual, but she is far from charismatic. And even an adorable baby couldn’t save this movie.

The ending is sweet and will please the right audience. So if your stomach can handle cheesy one-liners, make-ups and break-ups and dramatic chases to the airport, then have no fear. It really isn’t terrible.