All of the fun of Life As We Know It is tossed away because of an utterly absurd, completely implausible plot. The comedy is mediocre, the progression of events are predictably contrived, and the character designs are generic – but none of this is important after the basic premise is revealed, because it’s difficult to focus on anything outside of the unmistakably unreal storyline. Most romantic comedies have a unique setup wherein opposites can struggle to come together quite formulaically; the singular situation devised for this film is so obnoxiously nonsensical that regardless of laughs, chemistry or drama, nothing can help it recover from the first 15 minutes.Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) is the owner of a small pastry shop called Fraiche. She spends the majority of her time making baked goodies and flirting with a regular customer, the suave Dr. Sam (Josh Lucas). She drives a Smart car, prefers reservations at fancy restaurants, and is always punctual. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel), who wears a ratty old baseball cap, never combs his hair, rides a motorcycle, and generally lives carefree. Their best friends are Peter and Allison Novak, a couple who have just recently had a baby, Sophie, and continually try to get Holly and Messer romantically involved. The two despise each other, however, but are forced to tolerate a constant presence, from the wedding to parties to neighborhood gatherings.
When a sudden car accident takes the lives of the Novak’s, Holly and Messer learn that they’ve left Sophie to them in a joint guardianship. It’s a significantly scary, serious event for a comedy of this nature, but it’s brushed aside fairly quickly to make room for comedic dialogue. Both Holly and Messer have an interest in raising the child, even though Messer spends the majority of the movie complaining that Sophie has ruined his life and that he’s given up his hopes and dreams to care for the baby. The two decide that the best solution is to move into the Novak’s enormous house together and rear the kid as their own. They’re not in love, have no plans of dating, and don’t particularly like one another, but adjudge that staying together with Sophie is what the Novak’s would have wanted.
If that notion sounds entirely illogical, it’s because it is. The film attempts to treat the various resulting slapstick and comedic situations with seriousness, as if no one questions the many preposterous decisions. For chuckles, the duo acts as if they have no idea how to behave around or treat a toddler: the baby vomits in Messer’s open mouth, takes a dump in his hat, spits food onto Holly’s shirt, and splatters feces on her cheek. This is supplemented by montages of feeding, changing diapers, bathing, shopping and planning, all dull and trivial. The only real humor arrives in the form of overweight supporting roles, cracking food jokes and tormenting Holly’s single status. When the script runs out of clever words, the baby is put in front of the camera to waste screen time. The film takes place over the course of one year – and it feels like it takes that long to watch it.- Mike Massie