class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-23404″ title=”Life as we Know It” src=”×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”220″ height=”150″ />Not to be confused with the 2005 teen angst series full of hormonally-charged monologues, this is a new comedy from Green Lantern writer/producer Greg Berlanti who cut his directing teeth back on little known romcom, The Broken Hearts Club: A Romance Comedy, over ten years ago.

Berlanti has since had ample practice lifting relationships off the page and onto the screen, even the trickiest ones, after the successful TV series Brothers and Sisters. He now takes his expertise to the big screen for his first feature film, starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel in the leads, and it’s a generous, witty and observant affair, if a tad predictable, as any romcom commonly is.

To be fair, the genre is probably one of the most entrenched to try and vary, as we want the ‘rom’ and the ‘com’ and as near a happy ending as possible. What needs to work well is how we get from point A to B. Life As We Know It brings a very real and sobering situation that many child-rearing adults will instantly relate to and tries not to trivialise the serious of it, but approach it with some thought, humour and a little wisdom.

This film does suffer from smug ‘Nancy Meyers domestic bliss’ syndrome, as the recently deceased parents have the ‘home to die for’ (pardon the pun) to help their chosen guardians bring up their darling daughter in. Plus Heigl as Holly Berenson, a successful businesswoman who finds she’s holding the baby is reminiscent of Streep’s equally priggish Jane Adler character in Meyers’ It’s Complicated, running the idyllic, small-town patisserie.

How aptly ‘mumsy’, perhaps? Jealous? You bet. But Life As… doesn’t falter on portraying what all romcoms do: depict the relationship ideal, allowing for a bit of frivolous escapism, whilst prompting us to identify with regular issues along the way.

Berlanti hits romcom casting gold with Heigl who simply reverts back to type in a role that we enjoy seeing her play, over and over again: the obsessive, neurotic professional desperate for a break. Knocked Up instantly springs to mind, to be honest, what with a child in need of care, but because the writing is a little less slapstick than Apatow’s offering, Heigl gets to take and be taken more seriously as Holly, whilst layering on the sarcasm and quips in her deliciously naughty but sexy gal-next-door way. In fact Heigl has reached that stage in romcom, where she can confidently be the primary comedy protagonist, which make her screen portrayals all the more convincing and aspiring.

Rising screen heartthrob and ‘Mr Fergie’ Duhamel plays insufferable jock/TV sports producer Eric Messer who is also Holly’s long-term nemesis and the Desperate Housewives-styled neighbourbood’s babe magnet. Duhamel seems very comfortable supporting Heigl, but ups the game by injecting childlike rebellion into the part with amusing results, whilst causing considerable drool, both on and off the screen, with a couple of well-placed stretches and underwear-lounging shots.

Surprise, surprise, Holly and Eric find ways to cope with being around each other under one roof, and loathing turns to love along the way, sweeping both off their feet. It’s the ultimate modern-day fairy tale where both parties are expected to ‘save’ each other, rather than just Prince Charming.

Another entertaining factor of this romcom is the fun observational moments that might be lost on those not regularly exposed to littleuns and include dropping the baby, changing the baby, watching the first steps taken by the baby, and trying to decipher the universal mystery that is kids TV with the baby – all spot on.

Berlanti tries to avoid making his characters two-dimensional, balancing the rough with the smooth with little gems of surprise delight through a relatively smart script. As a first foray into mainstream feature film-making, he doesn’t fare too badly, helped by the Heigl/Duhamel appeal, whilst taking a leaf out of the feel-good Meyers romcom production manual and in doing so, targeting a wider audience.

Life As We Know It is released in UK cinemas on the 8th of October.

Review by Lisa Giles-Keddie