Making the Grades
Some couples stay together for the sake of the kids. But in Life As We Know It, Holly Benson (Katherine Heigl) and Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) are thrown together because of a baby.
The two single adults met on a blind date arranged by their mutual friends Peter and Alison Novack (Hayes MacArthur and Christina Hendricks) and discovered they had absolutely nothing in common. However when Peter and Alison are killed in a car accident a couple of years later, Holly and Eric find out they have been named the joint custodians of the Novack’s baby daughter Sophie (played by Alexis, Brynn and Brooke Clagett).
Instant parenthood causes big changes for both of them, especially when they move into the Novack’s house together. Holly, an efficient and controlling businesswoman who runs her own gourmet food shop, can’t entice the toddler to try even one bite of her homemade baby food. Eric, on the other hand, finds that the lack of sleep and nonstop responsibility of raising a child not only interferes with his job on the Atlanta Hawks’ broadcast team but also his insatiable libido. (His sexual penchants result in plenty of innuendo throughout the film, some crass comments and occasional scenes of him in bed with different women.)
In the midst of changing diapers and juggling work schedules, these new parents also struggle with the loss of their friends. The stress of the unexpected situation is evident when the emotionally strained Holly breaks down in the office of Sophie’s pediatrician (Josh Lucas). Though the doctor’s prescription for his patient’s caregiver is two glasses of wine, Holly downs nearly a whole bottle of it before Eric gets home at the end of the day. And as the seasons pass, it doesn’t appear the couple is getting any closer to creating the kind of happy home Peter and Alison envisioned for their orphaned child.
Luckily for audience members, Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel create some strong screen chemistry. Their performances are complimented by several likable secondary characters including a hefty cab driver turned nanny, a teary social worker (Chanta Rivers) and Eric’s broadcast buddy (Kumail Nanjiani).
However for family viewing, this Life is complicated by more than just a shared child. The possible consequences of Eric’s promiscuity, such as sexually transmitted diseases, are conveniently avoided. And several characters (including couples with a child) engage in the recreational use of illegal substances. (Although Peter admits he and Alison use drugs on occasion, the script fails to say whether or not they were a factor in their deaths.)
Anyone raising a child, even under ideal circumstances, knows the challenges that come with the experience. But the characters in this story make matters worse with squabbles and situations that hamper their best efforts. With such hurdles it is difficult to believe they could ever achieve a happily ever after family.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Life As We Know It.
Holly and Eric admit they have tiptoed around the Novack’s house since taking over the care of Sophie. What initiates their change of attitude toward their living space? How do they make it their own? How does that help them move on with their new life?
What selfish interests does each of them have to give up? What are some of the sacrifices parents make for their kids? This script suggests there are benefits in having two parents, if possible. What are some of those advantages? How do Holly and Eric’s different personalities contribute to a better experience for Sophie?
Sexual promiscuity and the recreational use of illegal drugs are played for comedy in this movie. Why are the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases or impairment never discussed? What other consequences for these two activities are not addressed?