Life As We Know It (2010)

Rated: PG-13 for sexual material, language and some drug content.
Length: 114 minutes
Grade: BCBB=B
Budget: $38 million
Box Office: $110 million (53 U.S., 45 Intl., 12 DVD)

Written by: Ian Deitchman & Kristin Rusk Robinson (First major script for both)
Directed by: Greg Berlanti (Broken Hearts Club, mostly a TV writer/producer for No Ordinary Family, Eli Stone, Brothers & Sisters, and Everwood)
Starring: Josh Duhamel, Katherine Heigl, and Josh Lucas

Two opposite personalities are thrust together when their best friends die in a car crash, leaving their daughter to be raised by her incompatible godparents.

Entertainment Value: B
It’s a slightly better-than-average comedy romance with a good soundtrack and funny enough to justify its existence and refraining (generally) from being anywhere near as vulgar as something Judd Apatow might write. However, the question of whether you ever actually get to the movie may be an issue since there’s like 15 minutes of ads on the DVD.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol C, Sex/Nudity C, Violence A-, Language C
Marijuana is used in brownies, and there’s some drinking with one scene of a woman being drunk. The man is known for being promiscuous, and there is one scene of prelude to sex and people in bed together afterward, but there’s no nudity at all. The violence of the car killing two parents is only hinted at. Language is semi-constant but mostly mild with occasionally heavier words. There’s no one thing that will stand out as offensive here, but PG-13 is definitely the right rating.

Significant Content: B
The normalcy of sexual promiscuity and pre-marital sex is completely taken for granted here, which is certainly a problem. But the bigger themes are actually pretty healthy, namely that two people who have a common object of love can eventually be brought together by that alone. Parenting requires massive and inconvenient sacrifices. Opposites both repel and attract. Teams are more powerful than just a set of individuals. Raising a child together is the essence of marriage. And getting help doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means you’re not in it alone.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
There are plenty of things to gain from this movie, and it falls into one of my favorite categories of movie: an entertaining comedy funny enough to get people to hear and consider its message.

Discussion Questions:
~After overhearing a fierce fight between Messer and Holly, Dr. Sam says, “If my wife and I had fought like that, we’d still be married.” How is fighting the key to a good marriage? What does the will to fight indicate? Who is more prone to bad fights, those who love or those who hate each other? If people in a marriage rarely fight, what does that mean?
~Messer tells Holly, “Having someone help you doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you’re not in it alone.” What do you think of this idea? Why are we prone to view receiving help as failure? Is this a healthy attitude? Is it Biblical? How does helping and being helped build community?
~“If you want to understand marriage, just imagine a prison…then don’t change anything.” Comment on this idea. Why is this funny, even if it isn’t all that true?
~“You’re not married? You’re raising a kid together, which is about as married as you can get.” What do you think of this? Is parenting the core of marriage? Why does our culture not think so? Which couple is more married in your opinion, the one having sex but not children or the one raising a child but not having sex?
~Social workers are often portrayed as stupid, incompetent, or harmful. What do you think of the portrayal of one in this movie?
~Why do Holly and Messer ultimately make a good team? Do you think the key to a strong team is similarity or complementarity?
~Why does parenting tend to bring people together and give them a reason to stay together? Why does it also tend to cause them conflict and make them want to split up?
~Is the point of marriage happiness or something else? What about parenting? How essential is personal sacrifice to both? What sacrifices do both Holly and Messer make in this movie? Does this movie remind you in any way of “The Gift of the Magi?”
~What message does our culture send about personal fulfillment and happiness? Could you say that both of them are living the current American dream before their friends die and eventually wind up living the real human dream afterward?

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~Having all sorts of parenting details dumped on them at the dinner party.
~Messer’s big chance and the cab driver.
~The big fight.
~The airport. What is this scene spoofing or poking fun at in other movies?
Overall Grade: B
Some pretty solid messages about all the right things wrapped in a fairly funny comedy with just enough vulgarity to irritate most religious people.

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