Two gorgeous girls are driving the streets of Los Angeles in a prius, slammin and jammin like a couple of teenagers getting out for the first time and Chamillionare’s perfectly matched Ridin’ Dirty accompanies our protagonists as the credits roll. As the music and credits fade, we are left with Kim (the beautiful Krysten Ritter) awkwardly staring at two hot guys in a sporty convertible while both cars are stopped at a traffic light. She tries to make small talk and just as numbers are about to be exchanged, a baby cry is heard from the back of the Prius, the guys look at each other and a new and promising relationship folds ever so as the sports car pulls away.
That is the basic plot of the story, how a child is an unexpected burden for our female leads. We see a back story where the two roommates fought over the last condom on a night where both were practicing their strong female independence and doing what my friends used to call the fs (find them, f*#k them and forget them). Deena (Kate Bosworth) takes it very rapidly and leaves Kim playing the odds, which obviously she loses.
Life Happens started off with a whimper as the actors all seemed to squeeze as many words into a breath as they could. With the exception of the stop light exchange with the car of guys, every line for the first 15 – 20 minutes seemed to not have any emotion, which seemed entirely strange as I don’t believe they shot the film in sequence. I am guessing they were trying to stay true to the script, which much have started much wordier, before settling into a more relaxed pace. The other issue was the running time was very long, and would have played much better with some more of the fat trimmed out.
Krysten Ritter, who also co-wrote the script, is fabulous playing the struggling Kim. She does well in expressing the challenges of trying to be a good mother, giving up on a ridiculous life long dream, resenting Kate Bosworth for taking the last condom and struggling to move forward in both her professional and love life. While carrying these emotions well she still makes you laugh in scenes, empathize in others and totally buy into her character. Krysten deserves more lead roles and has been mesmerizing in everything I have seen her in.
Kate Bosworth once again turns in a more dramatic role (I’m just coming off seeing her in Another Happy Day) and has made me completely forget thinking of her for Blue Crush or Superman Returns. She portrays the struggling writer who believes men should not be used for anything more than sex and doesn’t mind speaking up to anyone who loves as she doesn’t approve of. Since this is a dramedy, you know from the start that her character will be forced to grow at some point and that it will most likely be with the most unnatural selection.
The two characters I didn’t care for were the annoying stripper virgin and the fun loving friend of Deena. Rachel Bilson played the over the top, annoying christian virgin who took one questionable job after another. I won’t list the jobs, as the jobs were actually funny, but her character really didn’t add much to the film, and extended the dramedy to a very lengthy 2 hour run time. I like Bilson as an actress, but this is one character that if it was cut would have sped the plot up and reduced the run time. The friend of Deena played by Fallon Goodson (she was in attendance, so I feel bad for not liking her character), seemed to rattle off her lines at record setting pace without showing any emotion and as such never added anything to the film.
The rest of the cast was very impressive, and had a bunch of mid-level actors that could have easily priced themselves out of this indie budget. One of the funniest scenes in the movie had the normally comedy killing Jason Biggs doing an ad-libbed lawyer. Justin Kirk was great in his normal weird, quirky but caring way, and the lead male is played by Geoff Stults who turns in an almost by the numbers sensitive guy role. Rhys Coiro plays the deadbeat father, an Australian Surfer who has only a few scenes, but makes all of them worthwhile. Kristen Johnston got one of the biggest reactions from the audience, but as I was not a fan of 3rd Rock from the Sun she was just and off beat dog lover and the Kim’s boss.
There isn’t much to criticize on the cinematography or visual and audio aspects, as they were sufficient but not groundbreaking for this type of film. The director was the other co-writer and I felt could have benefited from slowing down the initial dialogues and leaving a little more on the editing room floor.
Overall, Life Happens was an enjoyable dramedy, worth the time if you like the talent involved or want something to watch with your girlfriend without it being too overly sappy. The director said this was her attempt to write some girls acting like they do in real life, and that it may have been more raunchy if it had been written after Bridesmaids. I feel it would have been better if it had been shorter and had trimmed some of the less important roles.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars