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Overall Grade
2 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
0 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Rent it

Life Happens

Street Date:
August 28th, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
August 24th, 2012
Movie Release Year:
2011
Studio:
Universal
Length:
101 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

If there is a key lesson to be learned from any of the numerous unplanned pregnancy films out there, it is this: Unprotected sex (especially when performed with a person who is little more than a stranger) is just flat-out hilarious, not at all dangerous, and always results in the birth of a child. It is also a means by which a formerly immature person may take stock of his or her life and accept that there comes a time for putting away childish things and aspirations (like a job they might actually be happy doing), so that a single mistake can become the sole focus of their increasingly hectic, but ultimately more fulfilling lives.

That is essentially the conceit of 'L!fe Happens,' which, on paper, comes across like 'Knocked Up' from the female perspective. While Judd Apatow's 2007 comedy hit certainly skewed heavily toward the male side of the equation (because, according to Hollywood, the people who don't have to physically carry and birth the child are the only ones allowed to act wacky about its pending arrival), and was even criticized for it by film's star, Katherine Heigl, 'Life Happens' isn't exactly a fulfilling alternative.

The film, co-written by its star Krysten Ritter, currently of ABC's 'Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23' and its director Kat Coiro, concerns Kim (Ritter) and Deena (Kate Bosworth, 'Superman Returns,' 'Blue Crush'), roommates and close friends whose potentially successful lives are now on increasingly divergent paths after a fateful night when they each have a man in their room and only a single condom in the house. Because this is a lighthearted comedy about unplanned pregnancy, there was literally nothing that could have been done to keep Kim from getting pregnant after the portent of doom that was Deena selfishly took the last condom in the house.

One year later, Kim and Deena's relationship has managed to survive the prophylactic thievery, but, sadly, Kim's social and professional life has taken a turn for the worse. It seems shallow bros named Ivan definitely do not dig it when attractive young women respond to their Axe Body Spray-inspired pick-up lines only to reveal a baby working up a good cry in the back seat of their car. The bros don't even stick around long enough to find out which woman the baby belongs to, so that she may be singled out and ostracized further. Instead, they hightail it to their pre-party-in-the-hills party at T.G.I. McSorley's – or wherever it is bros go for pre-party revelry.

In further baby-related embarrassment, Deena is quickly becoming a successful author and magazine writer who is free to pursue any man she chooses and keep it as casual as possible, while Kim is now working for an alcoholic socialite with a penchant for animal rights named Francesca (Kristen Johnston), who Kim believes will eventually invest in her doggie mall.

Because two single woman and a baby does not a proper comedy make, Kim and Deena have another roommate, Laura (Rachel Bilson), a similarly attractive twentysomething virgin who takes a series of increasingly degrading, sexually oriented jobs out of naiveté or displays of moral fortitude, or some unspoken motivation that lies between the two. Laura is little more than a footnote in the storyline, and seems to be around merely as a perfunctory visual accoutrement, or means by which a few extra, and ultimately unnecessary gags or jokes can be stuffed into the film.

'L!fe Happens' has its aspirations in the romantic comedy arena, however, so as luck would have it, the father of Kim's baby isn't really interested in being a dad, which leaves Kim (and the film) open to the entanglements of being a single mother still looking to have a good time with the occasional male suitor. Sadly, with that goal in mind, 'L!fe Happens' places the prospect of romance on the embarrassingly antiquated and sitcom-y notion that Kim tells her new beau Nicolas (Geoff Stults) that Deena is the mother of the child in question. Kim's denial is initially passed off as forgivable, considering she's only looking to have a short-lived good time with Nicolas, but undeniable feelings begin to arise between the two, complicating Kim's attempt at a care-free, limited romance. As one has likely already surmised, high jinks are aplenty, as Deena – for reasons never truly understood in the film – begins to succumb to the wiles of Nicholas' manchild best friend Henri, played with a cartoonish verve by 'Weeds' star Justin Kirk, and of course the eventual truth comes out.

On one hand, the nature of the comedy in 'L!fe Happens' aims to serve up the notion of sexuality in an environment where the women in question are not condemned for their choices or actions, but instead merely asked to own up and accept responsibility for them. Though the filmmakers' aim is far from being on target, there are several good bits that give the actors a chance to slip into a more comfortable and casual state where the jokes are not so forced, and one can forget about the clumsy premise long enough to enjoy a short, but raunchy laugh.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Presented in a 1080p VC-1 codec, 'L!fe Happens' benefits from having been filmed in 2011, as the transfer is mostly pristine, but somehow entirely unremarkable. The presentation has the appropriate filmic quality, as some grain is noticeable on the picture throughout, but it does little to add life to the images. Though unexceptional, the transfer does succeed in avoiding the dreaded video look, which can be more commonplace on lower-budgeted films such as this.

While black levels are consistent throughout, and there is a definite balance in the overall look of the disc, there is also an all-pervading cloudiness over the picture that reduces the appearance of fine detail and the overall quality of the high-definition presentation. Primary colors are mostly solid, but the rest of the film's palate comes off as rather dull and lacking the noticeable pop of most new discs being offered by Universal.

Though clarity can sometimes be an issue, the picture quality is certainly passable for a film such as this. While 'L!fe Happens' – as would most films – may have benefited from some additional love and care by the transfer process, the merely adequate look of the disc is certainly not a detriment to the film, it is simply another in a long line of missed opportunities.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The film's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track oddly enough gets a decent workout from the soundtrack's semi-ironic, but heavy use of Chamillionaire's hit 'Ridin'. The LFE and surround speakers will fully embrace the outrageously infectious single and likely leave you bobbing your head in tune with the heavy bass beat from the comfort of your own couch. The plus side of this being your nosy neighbors will think you are "ridin' dirty," when, in fact, you're watching Krysten Ritter explain away baby puke on her blouse.

This being a film based entirely on the dialogue between its main characters, the soundtrack is really the only chance 'L!fe Happens' will have to wow you with the audio. Still, the disc manages to balance the various music selections of the film's soundtrack with speaking characters remarkably well. Conversations are crisp and clear, regardless if they are set in a living room or a busy bar or restaurant.

Speaking of which, when applicable, environmental sound comes through the rear channels with clarity and does a good job of enveloping the listener in the ambiance of any particular scene. While there are very few instances where the film would have something worthy to showcase on its audio track, Universal has stamped a quality DTS-HD Master Audio on this Blu-ray release.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

This is a truly bare-bones release for a film, as there is nothing in the way of film-related supplements.

  • Previews (HD)

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives.

Final Thoughts

'L!fe Happens' could have done a lot more with less. It's strange to say, but in this post-Tarrantino, Aaron Sorkin or even Diablo Cody world, many scripts aiming for something akin to that level of interplay are woefully overwritten. The effect drags the film down with unnecessarily exposition and laborious dialogue that becomes a hodgepodge of half-realized imitations, leaving viewers longing for the real thing. Krysten Ritter has a good grasp on where her appeal and talents lie (somewhere between acid-tongued best friend and scatter-brained dreamer), and with her star on the rise, it's likely that audiences will begin to see her cast in more high profile roles that better exhibit her confidence and charm. Unfortunately, 'L!fe Happens' just isn't the vehicle to make her a household name.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, Spanish

Supplements

  • Previews

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