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Life as We Know It: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Review

Life As We Know It (2010) movie poster Life As We Know It

Theatrical Release: October 8, 2010 / Running Time: 115 Minutes / Rating: PG-13 / Songs List

Director: Greg Berlanti / Writers: Ian Deitchman, Kristin Rusk Robinson

Cast: Katherine Heigl (Holly Berenson), Josh Duhamel (Eric Messer), Josh Lucas (Dr. Sam Nelson), Christina Hendricks (Alison Novak), Hayes MacArthur (Peter Novak), DeRay Davis (Lonnie), Sarah Burns (Janine Groff), Rob Huebel (Ted), Bill Brochtrup (Gary), Andy Buckley (George Dunn), Andrew Daly (Scott), Majandra Delfino (Jenna), Reggie Lee (Alan Burke), Melissa McCarthy (Deedee), Will Sasso (Josh), Jessica St. Clair (Beth); Alexis, Brynn & Brooke Claggett (Sophie Novak), Kumail Nanjiani (Simon), Britt Flatmo (Amy), Faizon Love (Walter - uncredited), Jean Smart (Holly's Mom - uncredited)

Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download 2/8!
Buy Life As We Know It from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy DVD Blu-ray Video on Demand


Katherine Heigl has stated that her decision to leave "Grey's Anatomy" was to focus on her family, but bowing out of ABC's popular hospital drama in 2009 freed her up to make two movies released in 2010, each of which reportedly paid her $12 million.
That has made her one of Hollywood's top-earning actresses with just a few leading film roles under her belt, most notably Knocked Up. Life as We Know It harks back to that hit 2007 comedy because it again tosses Heigl into a parenthood situation she is unprepared for with someone she's not all that crazy about.

Heigl plays Holly Berenson, a single Atlanta woman with a successful little bakery and catering business. The film opens with her meeting Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) for a blind date their mutual friends have arranged. It does not go well. He's an hour late, forgot to make the dinner reservations, and expects her to hop on his motorcycle. In short, neither is impressed by the other. The opening has all the makings of a standard boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-can't-stand-each-other, boy-and-girl-need-each-other romantic comedy and while this path is taken to a large degree, the movie opts for fewer laughs and more warmth and sentimentality.

Holly and Messer's matchmakers, married couple Peter and Allison (Hayes MacArthur and Christina Hendricks), die in a car accident. They are survived by their one-year-old daughter Sophie (the Claggett triplets). To their surprise, Holly and Messer, the baby's godparents, are also named as the baby's joint guardians in the deceased couple's will. With no other stable, interested relative to assume custody of the kid, Holly and Messer move into their friends' spacious house and assume parenting duties. They're not your typical family, though; Holly and Messer split up the responsibility and remain unattached to each other, with the driven baker taking interest in Sophie's smooth pediatrician (Josh Lucas) and the womanizing Atlanta Hawks' broadcast technical director taking what he can get (which is plenty).

Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) and Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) are unexpectedly named joint guardians of their dear mutual friends' orphaned infant.

Befitting the title, Life as We Know It is a dramedy. The movie looks for laughs by putting the underqualified guardians into parenting situations, as they deal with full diapers, indeterminate navel protrusions, and unannounced child protective service visits. At the same time, the film takes its premise seriously, recognizing the challenges of child-rearing that multiply in an awkward inheritance situation.

That design prevents things from getting overly broad and stupid. But the movie can't resist dousing Duhamel in vomit and putting feces on Heigl's cheek. And the neighborhood oddballs, from the gay guy with eyes for Messer (Rob Huebel) to the chubby gal with eyes for Messer ("Mike & Molly"'s Melissa McCarthy), feel like they belong in a different and wackier movie altogether. Nonetheless, Life is determined to prove it has a head on its shoulders and an oversized heart as it slowly creates reason for Holly and Messer to warm to each other. It plays absolutely to expectation and with minimal humor and poignancy to sweeten the journey.

Though it is shot in the wider (and increasingly more common) of the two aspect ratios used in cinema today, Life doesn't entirely shake a made-for-TV feel. That isn't unexpected of Greg Berlanti, who makes this his second directing credit after ten years of writing, producing, and creating television drama ("Everwood", "Brothers & Sisters", "No Ordinary Family"). Berlanti brings candor and emotion that is more in line with small screen programming than in feature films that can be labeled "romantic." But it just doesn't really take off any better than the uninspired comic gags do. While Life means too well to elicit your hatred, it doesn't do anything well enough to earn your admiration.

Josh Lucas plays pediatrician Sam "Dr. Love" Nelson, Holly's dapper alternative love interest. Messer and Holly's friendly new neighbors (including Rob Huebel, Andy Daly, Will Sasso, and Melissa McCarthy) feel like they belong in a more comedic romcom.

The movie also didn't seem to perform strongly enough to justify Heigl's salary (nearly one-third of the given budget), grossing $53 million domestically (plus a respectable $43 M overseas) in the fall off-season. That was still more than was earned by Killers, her attempt at a big summer action comedy, which she and Lionsgate will try again this year in the Janet Evanovich adaptation One for the Money.

Just in time for Valentine's Day gift-giving, Life as We Know It hits stores today on DVD, Blu-ray, and in Warner's now-standard Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack. We look at the lattermost here.

Watch the trailer for Life as We Know It:

Life as We Know It Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: DTS-HD 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-Only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: February 8 2011
Two single-sided discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP) and Blu-ray Disc ($29.98 SRP)
and on Video on Demand

VIDEO and AUDIO

Life as We Know It looks pretty terrific on Blu-ray, its 2.40:1 visuals appearing sharp and vibrant. A couple of shots showed more grain than expected, but the digital presentation still satisfies much more than the film it holds. The DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack is very front-oriented. Dialogue is crisp, clear, and satisfyingly discrete. The little bit of sampled music is nicely spread out.

The DVD's presentation is significantly weaker. The picture is adequate, but overly compressed, creating artifacts regularly. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is slightly more subdued than the Blu-ray's audio as well. On its own merits, most will deem the standard definition disc of satisfactory quality, but it pales in comparison to most other studios' present-day DVD output.

The DVD's scored main menu is practically identical to the Blu-ray's only menu, minus the bonus features.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

As is the norm on Warner's combo packs, all bonus features are relegated to the Blu-ray disc, aside from the digital copies which claim a substantial amount of virtual real estate away from the movie on the combo DVD. All of the BD extras are presented in high definition.

"A Survival Guide to Instant Parenting" (7:10) lets
cast and crew share their witty pearls of wisdom for raising kids.

"Katherine Heigl: Becoming the Best Mom Ever" (5:55) pours praise on the star/executive producer, who herself discusses her experience on the movie and her character.

"Josh Duhamel: The Triplet Tamer" (5:10) elaborates on the three infants who played Sophie, with Duhamel talking about working with them.

The Blu-ray's extras conclude with a substantial reel of deleted scenes (14:42), the standalone DVD's only bonus. Included here are a credited but otherwise non-existent Steve Nash cameo, neighbor families' birthday greetings for Sophie, a recurring nose-picking kid, and various moments with the leads.

The Blu-ray opens with promos for Blu-ray and Warner's Insider Rewards Program. The DVD goes without even these.

Like practically every other Warner title for some time, the DVD's menus are static and silent, save for the scored main screen. The Blu-ray's menu is just about identical to the latter, only with sound-accompanied pop-up selections and extras descriptions and runtimes.

The lone insert supplies the code and directions for the DVD's digital copy, which is offered in iTunes and Windows Media formats.

Though Peter (Hayes MacArthur) and Alison (Christina Hendricks) get minimal screentime, their absence hangs over the film. Just Holly (Katherine Heigl) and he (Josh Duhamel) and baby makes three. They're happy in their blue heaven.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

No amount of earnestness can make up for the unlikable leads and unfunny jokes in Life as We Know It. Though this romantic dramedy seems to have its heart in the right place, it fails to do anything to make you appreciate that. That leaves it more thoughtful but no more entertaining than most romcoms. Unless you're a really big fan of the stars, romance movie conventions, or babies, you'll probably be fine passing on this one.

More on the Combo Pack / Buy from Amazon.com / Buy the DVD / Buy the Blu-ray

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Life as We Know It Songs List (in order of use): Amy Winehouse - "You Know I'm No Good", Trina featuring Trick Daddy - "Pull Over", The Joe Raposo Singers - "Kids", Beggars - "You and Me", The Black Keys - "Your Touch", "Happy Birthday to You", Mozella - "Love is Endless", Josh Kelley - "Love is Endless", The Wiggles - "Get Ready to Wiggle", Josh Duhamel - "Creep", Pearl Jam - "Just Breathe", Free Energy - "Something in Common", "Wonder Pets End Theme/Credits", The Hotrats - "Pump It Up", The Wiggles - "Big Red Car", The Wiggles - "Can You (Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist?)", Ray LaMontagne - "Three More Days", Will Sasso - "Missing You", Eric Herman - "The Tale of the Sun and the Moon", Roberta Flack - "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye", Bruno Merz - "For You Now", Taken by Trees - "Sweet Child o' Mine", Faith Hill - "All I Ever Wanted"

Life as We Know It: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:
Download from iTunes Download Amazon MP3s Buy CD from Amazon.com

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Reviewed February 8, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Gold Circle Films, Josephson Entertainment,
and 2011 Warner Home Video. Screencaps from standard DVD. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.