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July 9, 2013

L!fe Happens

by Franz Patrick


L!fe Happens (2011)
★ / ★★★★

Kim (Krysten Ritter) and Deena (Kate Bosworth), best friends and living together, are the kind of young women who take guys, random hook-ups, to their respective rooms and do not think it is awkward having sex at same time. While they are smart enough to search for a condom before engaging in any sort of sexual activity, they find only one in the house. They try to come up with a solution to solve this problem but before Kim realizes it, Deena has snatched the last condom from her fingertips. A year later, it turns out that Kim and her partner conceived a baby boy that night. And yet despite having an infant, Kim is determined to live as if she were still a single gal with no one to look out for.

Based on the screenplay by Kat Coiro and Krysten Ritter, “L!fe Happens” is like a drunk frat boy on the dance floor: all confidence but absolutely no rhythm. The film wishes to be funny, from Kim and Deena’s friendly banters to predictable sitcom moments when they team up just so Kim will finally have a chance to have sex with a man many months after having a kid, but it is a joyless picture. Never mind that it offers no genuine sweetness or important message to say about female friendship. Every other scene, it seems to embody a new state of fugue. These women are caricatures and I was offended that the writers dare to make this embarrassment into a movie. Just because you have the money for it, it does not mean you should. Donate that money where it can do some good for the world.

Other than being put into film, its greatest misstep is its consistent attempt to pass Kim’s irresponsibility for comedy. While a few somewhat amusing things occur as she gallivants across town to let off some steam, it is never really funny because it is difficult not to feel concerned for the well-being of the child. At one point, she has gotten so desperate, she actually leaves her infant with a twelve-year-old neighbor. I questioned if Kim loves her baby, a curiosity that somewhat made me feel rotten. And yet at the same time, I wanted someone to call Social Services.

It is not until more than halfway through the picture that we are allowed to watch Kim and Max play together and interact like a real mother and child. In the beginning, it is always either Kim passing around her baby as one hands a red cup to friends for pre-game alcohol shots prior to clubbing or Max is attached to her back while she goes to her job as a dog walker and assistant to a truly vindictive boss (Kristen Johnston) who, by the way, hates children as much as she loves dogs. There is a lot of negative attitudes about children or having kids and it made me want to yell at the screen.

This would-be comedy’s inappropriate tone is not its only downfall. The supporting characters are as bland and dry as chalk. Laura (Rachel Bilson), the third roommate who also happens to be a virgin, is simply used as decor. She is often shown walking around in skimpy outfits for her odd jobs. It is ironic (or just moronic) that she is utilized as a mere sex object, all of which build up to one scene involving some big realization about women feeling empowered. This supposedly brilliant insight relies on the assumption that the people watching the film do not have a brain.

This is only one example. I can go on about the girls’ romantic prospects, Nicolas (Geoff Stults) and Henri (Justin Kirk), caricatures in that one is a nice, clean-cut guy while the other is a walking sex hound. They neither say nor do something interesting. But I will stop myself from going into it further. This film has wasted enough of my time and energy.

It is possible to make a funny movie about the struggles of being a single parent given that the material has a natural feel to it coupled with a character, or characters, we can root for despite his or her shortcomings. “L!fe Happens,” directed by Kat Coiro, is trashy and astoundingly bad. You know that saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Well, it does not apply here. I do not know anybody who can take pleasure from watching this.

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