If one is asked to sit through 99 minutes of a film that ponders, "Living every day as if it were your last," then the film should at least deliver a fresh prospective on this overdone topic. If it fails to do that, perhaps a character that the audience would care about is in order. This film fails to do either
Lanie Kerrigan (Angelina Jolie) is a local Seattle news reporter who is being considered for posh job in New York, for "AM USA." She must first prove herself in the field by working with Pete, an experienced cameraman (Edward Burns) whom she supposedly hates. When the ambitious reporter interviews a homeless prophet, he announces that the blonde reporter will die within a week. Once all of his other predictions come true, Jolie's character begins to realize that she is in fact going to die. As Thursday (D-day) quickly approaches, the reporter re-evaluates her own life.
The premise of the film is a little interesting at first. Sure, it has been done over and over again, but various interpretations have their own charm and there is room for more. However the development of the plot is just too obvious and there is nothing new, nor is anything portrayed in a very intriguing way.
While Life was marketed as a light comedy, it is anything but. Comedy would have been a much better direction for the filmmakers, however aside from a few jokes on the sidelines, the film takes itself very seriously. The tone of the script is confused. It's similar to A Knight's Tale which also tried to hopelessly shift between drama and comic relief. In the end, we end up with a picture that doesn't work as a drama or a comedy. Throughout the film, it feels as though the filmmakers kept changing their minds.
Unfortunately the confusion is not the only self-destructive component in the movie. The character development also does the job fairly well. Jolie shows Lanie's ambition sufficiently, but the movie suggests that there is more wrong with her life than a little healthy competition. It seems ridiculous that a person whose real tough faults we haven't seen is trying to change her ways. The movie seems to artificially pull Lanie into changing, instead of using character development as cause for such an evolution. Lanie changes at the end, but the question, "why?" remains. Pete's relationship with Lanie also seems forced. Pete flashes randomly throughout the movie, cueing Lanie's unfolding.
Edward Burns carries his role well enough, but unfortunately there isn't much to carry. Angelina Jolie just doesn't seem to fit into this role and while she is a talented actress, there is something very odd about her in Life. In fact, Tony Shalhoub is the only actor who remotely stands out in this movie. Although his dialogue follows the same scripted fate as the others, Shalhoub manages to express with his voice and facial expression much more than the script actually inhibits.
The script doesn't allow the audience to care much for any of the characters, doesn't contain a single original idea and tends to push ideas aggressively instead of allowing the audience to discover them. The script also leaves off various unresolved mysteries, most of which only seem to act as space fillers. The filmmakers take us towards one direction and back off immediately afterwards. Maybe they forgot? Considering the pacing, most of the audience did too.
"Life Or Something Like It" is comparable to one scene where Lanie's soon to be ex-boyfriend, Cal, takes Lanie to a ballpark in the middle of the night to throw a few pitches after a heart-to-heart talk. Lanie expects Cal to have some words of wisdom for her, or at least charm - but doesn't catch anything except the ball. Life Or Something Like It won't change your life and it won't change you mood either.
If you need to kill time, see the movie - But what if today is the last day of your life?
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Life or Something Like It is out April 24, 2002.