Death is a sort of strange starting point for a romantic comedy, but that’s just how Life as We Know It sets its protagonists up for love: When their best friends are killed in a car accident, irresponsible sports broadcaster Messer (Josh Duhamel) and uptight bakery owner Holly (Katherine Heigl) discover that they’ve both been named guardians of the couple’s 1-year-old daughter Sophie. Suddenly living together in the suburbs and learning on the fly about how to raise a child, Messer and Holly find their previous antagonism turning to love.
It’s the same old story from dozens of rom-coms, with devices including the neutered, clearly wrong romantic rival (Josh Lucas, taking one for the team); the wacky sidekicks (a variety of neighbors who doubt the insta-parents’ abilities at child-rearing); and even the dreaded last-minute rush to the airport, which should be legally banned from all movies in perpetuity. These are executed with a modicum of charm but still feel tired and dutiful, and the movie’s efforts to add gravity to its lightweight genre via depictions of grief and parenting doubts come off as glib and disingenuous. The generally off-putting and brittle Heigl exhibits a little bit of warmth here, but even the most likable of actors would be unable to make walking around with baby shit on their face appealing.