When a movie deserves credit, you give it. So, Life as We Know It starts off great. Messer (Josh Duhamel) and Holly (Katherine Heigl) end up together on a blind date, the single most mismatched couple on the planet. For five minutes, the awkwardness and sheer hatred between them is hysterical, and the tension legitimate.
It’s all downhill from there.
There are a few gags that work in this heavy-handed dramady, the inopportune couple left with a baby after their best friends die in a car crash. With no parenting skills to speak of, Messer and Holly begin singing “Wheels on the Bus” to the little one, Messer somehow twisting that into a plot recap of Speed. There’s the required diaper changing scene, as if that’s never been done before, Holly’s unfortunate accident during that process leading to one of the best lines in the movie that cannot be spoiled.
Past that, it’s cry and laugh, cry and laugh. The script credited to Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson finds every means necessary to split the two stars apart and as many times as possible. Then it finds ways to bring them back, all the while attempting to insinuate they won’t end up together. This is Hollywood. Take one guess what happens.
Life as We Know It even ends on the stereotypical run, one half of the couple dashing to be at the side of the other at an airport. According to modern day Hollywood, all relationships get a kick-start that way after a bit fight. The attempted twist there fails due to blatantly obvious camerawork to follow.
The premise is at the very least unique if relatively impossible, eliminating the Knocked Up scenario for something a little gentler and slightly less awkward. All could be forgiven too if there were any merit to the various happenings, but the plot keeps hammering the audience over the head with force to ensure the tears flow freely. It seems to enjoy it, even if the viewer(s) doesn’t.
Warner continues their streak, ditching VC-1 for AVC again, but the results, well, they’re not much better. Gone is that familiar processed facade so many of their titles used to carry. That’s good. What’s new is a poorly compressed film, completely failing to resolve a fine grain structure. There were early discs using MPEG-2 that looked a step above. For a two hour movie with uncompressed audio and extras, Warner crams the thing onto a BD-25 with breathing room, nearly six gigs to be exact.
The grain structure that swallows everything definitely should not were this encoded better. Fine detail is lost to the noise and compression, some walls littering themselves with chroma noise. Close ups carry a bit of a haze, partially because of the softness that dominates the lighting scheme, and otherwise because the compression isn’t keeping up with slight motion.
Everything is tinted warmly with ghastly results, one of those color timing changes that turns people so orange, they might as well be the exact opposite of the Na’vi in Avatar. Backgrounds, exteriors, and other primaries seem like they’re set on the surface of the sun. Reds suffer the worst, pumped up further because of the choices, even bleeding out a bit if they’re in the extreme range. Hardly any other hue exists.
Even the merely adequate black levels take on a bit of the orange burden in spots, some of the nighttime sequences given a light tinge of color. Contrast blooms constantly, during an early party scene giving the characters a rather distracting halo as their clothes seem lit by LEDs or something. When all of that isn’t infringing on the definition, Life as We Know It can look okay. There’s a light dimensionality when it all comes together, and even some facial detail squeezing out from behind the digital mess in close-ups.
The breezy soundtrack is the only work this DTS-HD track will have to handle, flipping the music sternly into the stereos and naturally back into the surrounds. Clarity is wonderful, fidelity perfect, and the balance with everything else flawless. None of the music requires the sub, and it’s one of those movies where you wouldn’t even know it were it turned off.
Dialogue sticks to the center, balanced with the other elements. It never has a moment to escape into the other channels. The only sound effect of note is a doorbell that sits in the left rear when it rings to wake up the star couple. That’s not much to go on, but then again, there’s nothing really wrong with this mix either.
A Survival Guide to Instant Parenting is described as a sort of PSA on the menu, but it’s really just the cast talking about raising kids for seven minutes. Heigl and Duhamel each get a featurette about their on-set experiences (11-minutes combined), and some deleted scenes follow those clunkers.