From the moment that Holly (Heigl) and Messer (Duhamel) meet, and take an instant dislike to each other, you just know – deep down, in your bones, you just KNOW – that by the time the credits roll, they will be deeply in love, coupled up and heading for Happy Ever After land. And yes, when the credits roll on Life As We Know It, that's EXACTLY what has happened. And if you think I've just spolied the film, then my friend, you have never seen a rom-com before.
Holly Berenson is a single, successful businesswoman who owns and runs a busy cafe. Eric Messer (everybody just calls him Messer) is also single, and works as a sports director for a TV network. When their mutual friends Peter and Alison (MacArthur and Hendricks) set them up on a blind date, things go disastrously and the two end up despising each other. But they do have one mutual interest: when Alison gives birth to a baby girl, Sophie, she and Peter choose as godparents .... yep, you guessed it, Holly and Messer. And when Peter and Alison are tragically killed in a car accident when Sophie is just a year old ... well, can you see where this is going? Can you see what is being set up? Yes, Holly and Messer are forced to put their differences aside and move in together to raise Sophie.
It's an obvious set up, and Life As We Know It does follow all the usual rom-com converntions, but it's also a surprisingly sweet, warm-hearted – and, yes, occasionally very funny – film. Heigl continues doen the road to being the new Jennifer Aniston: coming from a reasonably successful, career-building role in a popular TV series to do nothing but a string of so-so rom-coms. But if that's what Kath wants to do, then that's fine; it's just a shame that someone who appears to be a reasonably decent actor (I thought she was wonderful in Knocked Up) doesn't see the need to stretch herself. And as for Duhamel, well he hasn't really crossed my radar before (IMDb tells me that he was in the first two Transformers films) but he's handsome enough to have all the women in the audience swooning, so he slots in well to his role here. Oh, and he's got the requisite three-day growth that is simply a must-have for all male rom-com stars these days, so that's alright then.
The real stars of the film, though, are the five little girls – yep, that's right, five – who play Sophie. Alexis Clagett, Brynn Clagett, Brooke Clagett, Brooke Liddell and Kiley Liddell all do an exceptional job in this pivotal role. And you know what? They steal the film with their irresistible cuteness, and will absolutely steal your heart. Director Berlanti has a background in TV – along with many of his stars; as well as Heigl there's also Hendricks, from Mad Men, and McCarthy, now starring in that waful new sitcom Mike and Molly, to name just two – and makes a fair fist of his first big-screen outing. I wouldn't usually recommend a rom-com, particularly to our male readers, but Life As We Know It is pleasant, entertaining, quite watchable and sometimes even funny. And yes, I'm ashamed to admit that it even made me a little bit clucky.
EXTRAS ★★ It's a Triple Play edition, so you get a Blu-ray copy along with DVD and digital copies of the film. The extras themselves consist of deleted scenes (14:42); the featurette A Survival Guide to Instant Parenting (7:12); the featurette Katherine Heigl: Becomng the Best Mom Ever (5:56); and the featurette Josh Duhamel: The Triplet Tamer (5:16).