“Life As We Know It” has one of the most standard romantic comedy set-ups folded into a movie with a decidedly non-rom-com premise. Take the usual couple who can’t stand one another and mix with a story involving death and childrearing and you have a dram com—a dramatic comedy—and a pretty good one at that. Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel play Holly and Eric, the mismatched couple, two people set up on a disastrous blind date by their best friends—he has a motorcycle, she drives a Smart car, which is rom com shorthand for incompatible—who, after their friends are killed in a car accident, find they are the godparents to the surviving baby. They decide to make a go of it, playing mommy and daddy to little Sophie despite their obvious differences.
“Life As We Know It” takes a couple of risks. It allows us to get to like the child’s parents before killing them off and isn’t afraid to have long stretches of laugh free scenes. In fact, that’s the movie’s strength. The moments of real emotion, such as when Holly and Eric go back to their friend’s house for the first time after the accident, are well played and effective, it’s only when the movie slips into the “please don‘t say anything, just listen” stage that it becomes as traditional and predictable as any other Katherine Heigl movie. Luckily there are more real moments than not, some genuinely funny lines—at a diaper change Josh says, “It’s like “Slumdog Millionaire” in there”—and surprisingly effective performances from two lead actors better known for their looks than their acting abilities. “Life As We Know It” isn’t a classic by any stretch, but it is a lot better than the trailer would suggest.