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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Life As We Know It

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

"Life As We Know It" (Warner Bros.) boasts a somewhat sharper-witted script—penned by feature-length first-timers Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson—than the average romantic comedy.

But director Greg Berlanti's thoroughly predictable yarn of opposites attracting and animosity gradually yielding to a very different emotion also showcases a variety of lifestyle choices—and of more impromptu decisions—at variance with traditional morality.

Meeting ugly and butting heads from the start—as we witness in opening scenes set in 2007—are womanizing television director Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) and successful cafe owner Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl).

Eric and Holly have been set up by the Novacks (Christina Hendricks and Hayes MacArthur), the soon-to-be happily married couple with whom each is best friends. As their disastrous blind date—during which Eric using his cell phone to arrange a sleepover tryst with another gal as soon as he can get away from Holly—makes painfully clear, however, the Novacks are all these two are ever likely to have in common.

Vignettes of Eric and Holly demonstrating their mutual dislike at social events surrounding the Novacks' wedding and the birth of their daughter, Sophie (played by triplets Alexis, Brynn and Brooke Clagett), carry us forward to the present and to the news that a terrible accident has left Sophie an orphan. Her joint guardians under the terms of the Novacks' wills, it need hardly be said, are her quarrelsome godparents, Eric and Holly.

Their caustic relationship initially keeps the unusual household that results—as the ill-matched duo move into the Novacks' old home and struggle to cope with sudden-onset parenthood—from becoming an objectionable arrangement. But further complications involving the shift in their feelings, as well as Holly's competing interest in Sophie's pediatrician, Sam (Josh Lucas), lead to the crossing of several moral boundaries.

Add to this scenes illustrating Eric's heedless lifestyle and the presence, among the pair's eccentric new-found neighbors, of a homosexual couple, and "Life As We Know It" ends up falling far short of life as it should be.

The film contains brief nongraphic premarital sexual activity, implied casual encounters and cohabitation, an incidental gay relationship, drug use, much sexual and some scatological humor, at least one use of profanity, a couple of rough terms and frequent crude or crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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