Every once in a while, something at ShoWest surprises us. Last year, Todd Phillips’ The Hangover hit Vegas like gangbusters, generating so much laughter among exhibitors you knew it had to be a hit.
This year’s ShoWest surprise may be Greg Berlanti’s Life as We Know It, which on paper sounds like the typical high concept romantic comedy we’ve seen from both its stars, Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel. After each of their previous respective offerings The Ugly Truth and When In Rome, one can understand why we might be dubious and skeptical when we first heard they were doing a comedy together, but from the footage shown during Warner Bros.’ “The Big Picture” presentation, it seems to be more like an edgier version of Ron Howard’s Parenthood, crossed with Bringing Up Baby (that is, if the baby was actually a baby).
Berlanti and his two stars presented early footage from the movie to the exhibitors which essentially set-up the plot of Heigl and Duhamel’s characters Holly and Eric meeting on a blind date set-up by their mutual friends, which goes horribly wrong. They swear to never see each other again but when their friends pass away, they learn they’ve been named as the godparents to their daughter Sophie and have to live together while caring for the child.
The footage shown gave a pretty good idea what to expect in terms of the story and the sense of humor, starting with that horrendous blind date, the part of the movie that seems the most like your typical Katherine Heigl “meet cute” moment i.e. she goes out with a guy who acts like a complete pig and she gets all offended. Nothing really new there.
The footage got much funnier as it started to show the odd couple trying to figure out how to care for a baby even though neither of them know anything about parenting. In one scene, Sophie is in the bathtub and Holly starts panicking that she has to go poo and they frantically try to figure out what to do about it, so she grabs Eric’s baseball cap and puts it under Sophie’s butt. In a later scene, Heigl is in the shower and Josh is with Sophie when she starts to stand up and he calls her to come quickly because she’s starting to take her first steps, and she calls back for him to “delay it” so he pushes Sophie down and she starts crying.
The last scene involved the two of them changing Sophie’s diaper, the kind of gag we’ve seen many times in movies about young and/or inexperienced parents, beginning with their reaction when they look into the diaper, Duhamel making a comment about it being “like ‘Slumdog Millionaire’” (if you’ve seen the movie, you know the scene). The doorbell rings and they start panicking, but Eric goes downstairs to see who it is and all their neighbors are there to welcome them to the neighborhood. He goes upstairs to help Holly clean-up but she says she has it under control, except she doesn’t realize she missed a bit of poop on her own face, a moment that feels a bit like the Farrelly’s There’s Something About Mary. Eric tries to say something to her but she walks past carrying Sophie and starts heading downstairs to greet the neighbors completely unaware, and one of the women says matter-of-factly, “Sweetie, you have sh*t on your face.” The rest of the footage was essentially a montage, probably giving away a little too much about what happens in their relationship–you can probably figure that out–but who knows how much of it will end up in the actual trailer. It does seem like Heigl and Duhamel have decent chemistry, and this could be something closer to Knocked Up than The Ugly Truth.
Sure, some of the gags might seem obvious or silly, but they play funnier than described. At times, it seems like this might come across like a dirtier version of Marley & Me–it’s even opening over the same Christmas holidays that helped that movie find such a huge audience–but it also seems like the type of relatable humor parents are going to love as much or more than Heigl’s normal young female fanbase.
Earlier and before we had a chance to see any of that footage, we spoke briefly with Josh Duhamel and Greg Berlanti on the press line–again with Katey Rich of Cinema Blend–and you can watch those video interviews below. We were especially interested in talking to Berlanti since he’s producing the Green Lantern movie currently shooting as well as rumored to possibly direct The Flash. You can hear what he said about those two projects in the video interview below as well.
Life as We Know It opens on December 22.