MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
Krysten Ritter as KIM
Kate Bosworth as DEENA
Rachel Bilson as LAURA
Geoff Stults as NICHOLAS
Justin Kirk as HENRI
Kristen Johnston as FRANCESCA
Directed by: Kat Coiro
BY KEVIN CARR
“Life Happens” is one of those films that happen across my desk completely under my radar. When I got a copy for review, I vaguely remembered seeing Krysten Ritter promoting the film in ad spots at my local AMC theater, in conjunction with the AMC Independent label. But until I actually looked at the Blu-ray cover box, I didn’t even remember what the movie she was promoting was about.
While this film did get a limited release in theaters, I will always see it as a direct-to-video sort of film because that’s when it first existed for me. I’m sure it had a nice little festival run and played in a few smaller theaters around the country. However, it was never big enough to break out into the mainstream.
That might sound like the attitude of a low-brow elitist, which I have been accused of being several times in the past, but actually that works in favor of the film. If I had seen “Life Happens” at a press screening (or paid to see it for a Thursday midnight show), I would be harder on the movie. I expect more, at least from a focus standpoint, from a major studio release that hits 2000 theaters in wide release. Something like “Life Happens” gets a bit of a pass because I always assume the creation of the film is a labor of love (no pun intended).
So on Blu-ray, this movie is far from perfect, but it’s not awful. Like many of these smaller, independent films, “Life Happens” works to an extent because of its cast. Well, because of Krysten Ritter, who has had a bizarre career trajectory as of late. This path she has taken helps her in this movie because Ritter is a bit of a wild card of an actress.
Originally a model, she first became visible in the mainstream as a quirky and awkward best friend to people like Katherine Heigl in rom coms. Then, she landed a role on the ABC sit com “Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23.” It’s hard for me to not see her as the awkward friend, partly because that’s how I was introduced to her in film but also because she’s got a bit of an awkward quality to her that makes her more attractive than her otherwise beautiful co-stars Kate Bosworth and Rachel Bilson. Like Judy Greer, there’s an approachable quality to Ritter that makes her pop on screen.
Anyway… back to “Life Happens.”
Ritter stars as Kim, a young single mom who got pregnant when her roommate Deena (Bosworth) swiped the last condom on a double date. Now, she’s struggling to juggle life, a job, motherhood and a social life when her baby daddy decides he wants out of the whole deal. Deena and their other roommate Laura (Bilson) help out the best they can, but the trio soon learn that it’s a full-time job raising a kid.
As a parent of three boys, whom I stay at home with while my wife works, I find movies like these immensely frustrating. The story arc of the characters involve them coming to the realization that having children means they themselves must grow up. For me, that’s a no-brainer that should come at some point during the nine months of pregnancy. Having that realization while the child is teething may be somewhat realistic, but it’s somewhat pathetic.
Single motherhood can’t be easy, and these roommates learn that, but throughout the film, I don’t see them actually learning anything real about the process. Movies like these (including last year’s hideously terrible “I Don’t Know How She Does It”) deliver a conflicted message that you can have it all. Spoiler alert: you can’t. Having a child is a full-time commitment, and at some point, something will have to give, whether it be a social life, a partying lifestyle, material possessions or a career. That’s the cold, hard truth that this movie never quite reaches.
Co-written by Ritter, “Life Happens” is also co-written by director Kat Coiro, whose real-life baby challenges helped inspire the script. This adds a certain level of realism to the film, but in the end it still feels like it’s written by someone who doesn’t actually have kids or hasn’t come to the realization of sacrifice yet.
Still, “Life Happens” is a nice enough movie with its heart in the right place. It tries a bit too hard to show the edgy female side of things, which yields some quite unlikable characters, but it works on some levels.
The Blu-ray is bare bones, with no special features at all.