Life or Something Like It Reviews
Life or Something Like It wants to be a funny comedy and succeed with legitimate dramatic intentions, but there is never a tonal consistency because the film goes back and forth between trying for one or the other. The sad thing is that it does not succeed as either. Against the backdrop of a ridiculous premise involving a street psychic, Life or Something Like It quickly dissolves into a generic romantic comedy with the same message as countless others about stopping once in a while to smell the roses. The only thing that needs to stop is the film because viewers who actually end up watching this film are not too likely to watch it to the end unless they either feel compelled to witness something all the way through before critiquing it or in the unfulfilling hope that Angelina Jolie will appear in her underwear. I can honestly admit it was not worth sitting through the entire film of Life or Something Like It because the story is weak from the beginning and fails to progress anywhere at all.
Life or Something Like It is a pathetic excuse for a film. It has essentially no plot and nothing but repetitive rom-com conventions for the entire film without an actual hint of wit or romance at any point in the film. The romantic intentions of the film were muddled because the protagonist cannot decide what she wants or show any sign that she has genuine romantic interest in any other characters. The entire film is an unfocused and misguided affair which cannot decide what to do or where to go any more than Stephen Herek can decide what to do with it. Somehow he managed to waste a collosal $40 million on this film which was a waste because it ended up being a massive box office bomb. Where all the money actually went puzzles me. If it went into trying to get strong scenery which the film failed to take advantage of then that would explain part of it, and if the rest went into financing the salary of Angelina Jolie straight off the bat from her Academy Award winning performance in Girl, Interrupted then that explains the rest of it. Yet neither of these elements do any good to Life or Something Like It in the long run because they fail to make up for the poorly conceived story and lack of humour in the screenplay. The romantic comedy genre is one where there are few gimmicks which are not overused by every film around them, but Life or Something Like It manages to use nothing but conventions and minimal creativity to tell its lack of a story.
There are only two ways that Life or Something Like It can end: either Lanie Kerrigan dies and the entire film is pointless due to its lack of depth, or she lives and the entire film is misleading. In one of the rare cases where I don't care about spoiling the ending, I find that Life or Something Like It manages to come up with a third and more ridiculous option: She dies, but only briefly. It's sad to say that predicting that came too easily, but it just makes the ending to the film ridiculous. Life or Something Like It is one of the few films I would have enjoyed more if the protagonist actually died in the end because then viewers wouldn't have been lied to the entire time. It would have made the rest of the film pointless, but it doesn't even matter when the material is as poor as Life or Something Like It. It ends on a ridiculously cheesy note which is the message which has pounded viewers over the head for the entire film to the point of leaving them concussed. If the film hasn't already incapacitated films then the shoddy twist ending will. And if that isn't enough, then the cast will make sure of it.
Life or Something Like It was clearly concocted primarily as a star vehicle for Angelina Jolie, but it gives her all the wrong material and makes use of none of her talents. Without a compelling role which capitalises on either her abilities in drama or even her sex appeal, Life or Something Like It instead just pushes her through unfunny and weak material which limits her role to a generic one. Like in The Bone Collector, life or Something Like It serves as a reminder that she is not strong in the most basic of roles. Whatever her charm is can not be seen in Life or Something Like It because even her attractiveness is worn down by her blatantly fake hairstyle and colour which doesn't match her in any way. There is nothing that Angelina Jolie brings to her leading role which is memorable or worthy of any sort of positive recognition which makes her nomination for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress all the more relevant. Angelina Jolie's leading performance in Life or Something Like It is officially a charisma free zone, and her lack of comic energy or grip on the intended drama makes the one-dimensional artificiality of the film all the more obvious and ineffective.
So Life or Something Like It wants to be a touching drama and a funny romantic comedy, but it is painfully generic and unfunny while led through murky territory by poor directorial work from Stephen Herek and an empty lead performance from Angelina Jolie.
Stephen H. Burum has proven himself to be a fairly talented cinematographer, and here, his tastes in soft lighting are mostly used to accentuate the star power of Angelina Jolie, although there are a number of other handsome visuals that Burum anchors, which isn't to say that his photography is the only pretty thing in here to hold your attention. Well, Jolie isn't the only performance worth noting here, with the underused Tony Shalhoub stealing the show at times as a homeless prophet, while Edward Burns proves to be notable only in his being so flat, but it ultimately comes down to a Razzie-nominated performance by Jolie that convinces more than the lovely lead's blonde wig, bringing charm to an unlikably written character, with some moments of dramatic effectiveness that are rare, but still more than this film deserves. This is one of those cases in which the Razzies gave a nod to a lead just for being involved in a bomb of a film, because Jolie is more-or-less the best thing about this film, so much so that she helps in carrying it, and endearing you to a premise that admittedly has some potential. The subject matter of this film at least has a potential for freshness, brutally betrayed by genericisms that reflect a laziness which ends up defining much about this flat rom-com-dram, but does not completely obscure the intrigue to a story about a woman coming to terms with an uncertain fate, and with her humanity. Of course, the laziness could have completely overshadowed this premise's value, were it not for the occasions in which it is broken, at least by Stephen Herek's direction, which occasionally smooths out the transitions between humor and drama, but mostly just keeps up some degree of liveliness that begets some degree of entertainment value, if not charm. There is something a little endearing about this film, and it, largely on the back of Jolie's performance, grows a little more prominent throughout the film's course, resulting in moments of decency, and, really, an obscurity of any major contemptible moments. The final product all but transcends serious mediocrity, but on the whole, it falls spectacularly flat as a trite and superficial flick that doesn't even carry much weight in concept.
I've given a little bit of credit to this story concept for its potential for liveliness and intrigue, maybe even a sliver of originality, but that potential is still seriously limited by superficiality's even managing to rear its ugly head into this premise of little consequence, and no potential to transcend decency. Even the decency is easy to threaten, and John Scott Shepherd's and Dana Stevens' script is certainly threatening in that regard, because even though there are commendable aspects about the acting and storytelling, the writing of this film is consistently flat, with dialogue and even with humor. What ambitions there are to scripting don't always work, because even though the story takes some somewhat engaging turns, it jars its way there, being too uneven with its theme, progression and, to a certain degree, tone for you to get all that comfortably invested in the story, and its contrived characters. If there is some depth to the characterization, that is, of the Lanie Kerrigan lead, then it thrives on Angelina Jolie, because in writing, just about every role feels manufactured, with forced layers to accommodate trite storytelling. Even David Newman's score is almost embarrassing in its being so blasted generic, but the conventions are far from ending there, because if there are unique aspects of this premise, they are lost amidst the aforementioned trite dialogue, humor, characterization and plotting formula that ultimately leads to a predictability which reflects laziness. I don't reckon laziness is a huge, infuriating issue, but the fact of the matter is that there's barely all that much inspiration being put into transcending natural shortcomings, even in the direction, which has a certain charm and color, but not really an pace, thus making the overdrawn nature of this uneven and misguided mess all more punishingly palpable. Maybe the structure of the film isn't punishing in its dragging, because as things go along, engagement value really does start to pick up, with the thickening of material for Jolie, and of worthy themes and story aspects, but these highlights are never that bright, and they arrive much too late to save this superficial misfire of a promising, but ultimately flat affair.
Overall, there are handsome occasions in the cinematography, effective moments in Angelina Jolie's acting, and some endearing heights in Stephen Herek's reasonably charming telling of a reasonably promising premise, whose superficiality is emphasized so intensely by flat writing, an uneven narrative, contrived characterization, and genericisms, all of which reflect a certain laziness that wears down patience, until "Life or Something Like It" collapses as a mediocre romantic comedy-drama that could have done something fresh, but doesn't quite secure decency.
2.25/5 - Mediocre
"That's for people like you who don't know a thousand words."
Ambitious newswoman (Jolie) is told by a street prophet (Shalhoub) during a local color interview that she will die in 7 days. Shaken, she reluctantly turns to easygoing smartass cameraman (Burns) for advice and comfort. Poorly executed, both as a story of a person reassessing her life to discover what's important, and as a romantic comedy which is short on comedy and some of the most unromantic dialogue you will ever hear, bickering and bargaining about "having sex" like it's an object as mundane as a bag of potato chips. The blame lies mostly within the screenplay because the stars try to sell it, but there's not enough substance. So inert is the soul of this movie that it couldn't even inspire a halfway decent poster, resulting in conceptual designs as flat as the paper they're printed on.
Here's a rare chance to see Jolie as a blond, I think she looks weird with those bouffant goldilocks but underneath she's as radiant as ever. In fact the camera pushes in so close that you may notice for the first time a small indentation in the skin on her right cheek. Edward Burns starts out boorish but develops a little charm along the way, although his high school drama instructor should've shitcanned that raspy whisper he calls a speaking voice.
also stars Tony Shalhoub, Christian kane, Stockard Channing, Melissa Enrico, James Gammon, Lisa Thornhill and Gregory Itzin.
directed by Stephen Herek.
And the soundtrack is loaded with music straight out of my CD collection.
But the huge draw back of this film is Jolie. I really cannot see her anymore as anyone by Angelina Jolie. Her horribly fake bleech blonde wig or her massive un-human lips or that dull look with an odd smirk she has the entire film...I just can't take her in a serious movie role anymore. Her persona as a celebrity won't allow it in my mind. She is really badly miscast here.