Holly and Eric (Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel) zip a Smart Car from zero to, well zero, in a blind date so terrible you know they're destined to be together -- at least in Life as We Know It. That is, life as we know it in the romantic comedy date-o-sphere and the latest spawn of the genre, the film Life as We Know It.
If the Academy created a category for Best, or Most Frequent, Use of Musical Montages (which of course they should), Life as We Know It would certainly be a contender. It relies on the first of its extended montages to sum up Holly and Eric's post-first-date and pre-parenthood history. Their BFFs Alison and Peter are a model of married bliss, living in a perfect house in a perfect neighborhood with a perfectly adorable baby Sophie (Eric and Holly's goddaughter). Despite Holly insisting that she never wants to set eyes on Eric again after Alison set them up on their disastrous date, all five seem to do everything together. Though it's clear, when Eric pinches Holly's rear during a wedding photo-shoot, or points out the mistletoe when she obviously doesn't want to kiss her Christmas party date, that they hate each other.
Then Alison and Peter die in a car crash, and Holly and Eric learn from their lawyer that they've been chosen in their will to take care of Sophie. "TOGETHER?" is their response since of course they detest each other. The lawyer suggests (which I'm sure is standard legal practice), that they move into Sophie's house (for her sake) until they've decided if they accept the responsibility or prefer other guardian options (like Sophie's oxygen-tank-dependent grandpa). Eric points out the ludicrousness of their friends forgetting to mention they're Sophie's guardians. Yet when movies admit something doesn't make sense, you know the movie makers aren't really sorry and will just do it again.
So the singletons are thrust into a life of poo, vomit and sleepless nights. It's a rather realistic (for a while) portrait of sudden parenthood. Holly's gourmet bakery biz and Eric's sportscast director dreams all take a backseat to Sophie. On top of that, a quirky social worker drops by at all the wrong moments to evaluate whether they're even capable of raising Sophie. But then, they're both beautiful people, Eric especially as their kooky neighbors keep reminding us. (You'd think Heigl would demand the writers flatter her looks instead of spotlighting, as in most of her roles, her character's stick-up-her-skirt personality.) Nevertheless, they're attractive and Heigl and Duhamel's high-strung gal meets carefree playboy chemistry works unexpectedly well. When the life-with-Sophie montage of diaper changes and first steps starts, you suspect everything will work out regardless of whatever bickering ensues, or Holly's crush on her blue-eyed bakery customer Sam (Josh Lucas).
So if you can swallow the following pills of romcom wisdom:
1. Loathing is a mask true love wears, or as Sam puts it after Holly and Eric squawk at each other during a Thanksgiving tiff, "if my wife and I fought like that, we'd still be married."
2. Backwards is the new forwards. First comes baby, then comes man (or woman), then comes love.
Then Life as We Know It is a heartwarming romantic comedy of peppy pop montages that hits all the right notes and will be music to your ears. Or, it may only remind you that romcoms are a lot like Jackass, potentially entertaining, but not an example of something you should try at home, especially in your love life.