A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this Katherine Heigl/Josh Duhamel romantic dramedy features a baby, it deals with mature themes related to relationships and parenting that will go over kids' head. Although there's no graphic depiction of sex, there are lots of references to sexual relationships, and Duhamel's character has one-night stands and casually makes out with several different women. Another scene includes heavy kissing and then shows two bodies in bed. Grown-ups drink at dinners, parties, and holidays, and in one scene Heigl's character is shown finishing off a bottle of wine. Marijuana is shown twice and eventually baked in brownies. Language includes "a--hole," "s--t," and "bitch," and there are a surprising number of product placements (particularly household goods and cars), though they're just shown rather than mentioned. On the bright side, teens may learn a valuable lesson about the meaning of family.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Put-together caterer Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) and womanizing TV-sports producer Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) were once set up on a blind date by their best friends, Alison (Christina Hendricks) and Peter (Hayes MacArthur), but they quickly realized that they couldn't stand each other -- but that doesn't prevent Alison and Peter from naming the "frenemies" godparents after they get married and have a baby girl, Sophie. When Alison and Peter are killed a car accident, Sophie, now 1, is left with Holly and Messer, who are expected to live in their friends' house and raise their daughter. As the odd couple settles into their unconventional routine, they find themselves falling in love, despite instructions from the child welfare case worker not to "complicate" their situation by getting together romantically. And when a tough choice arises, things get even trickier.
Is it any good?
For moviegoers who like watching good-looking people fall in love -- with a baby and each other -- LIFE AS WE KNOW IT is an easy (if unremarkable) film to see. Heigl, who's an undeniably charming actress, has made quite a few stinkers, particularly The Ugly Truth, which was full of sexist messages. And while this movie at first affirms the tired idea that hardworking, career-minded women like Holly are somehow less desirable than the beautiful but "easy" women that Messer beds, the irresistible baby and the relatable theme of juggling parenthood with being yourself makes this a slight improvement -- albeit still overwhelmingly clichéd (and nowhere near the greatness that was Knocked Up).
Director Greg Berlanti -- who has an impressive track record with TV dramas like Dawson's Creek, Everwood, and Brothers & Sisters -- can't help relying on certain clichés that are OK in hourlong dramas you grow to love season to season but bog down a romantic comedy in eye-rolling predictability. A story about an uptight, organized woman clashing with a carefree, fun-loving man until they stumble into love and tumble into bed together can lead to a satisfying arc on primetime, but here it's simply amusing, because we know exactly what's going to happen. At least Heigl and Duhamel have passable chemistry.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about family. Do the characters make a believable family unit? Why or why not?
Holly and Messer drink on several occasions and also make and eat pot brownies. What's the impact of portraying grown-up characters who like to drink regularly and use marijuana "once a year"?
Is the movie predictable? Does that make the end any less satisfying?