Life Or Something Like It

on April 26, 2002 by Sheri Linden
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   “Life or Something Like It” revisits tried-and-true cinematic themes and formulas with a fresh eye. Despite a few heavy-handed elements, the smart script and subtle performances make this crowd-pleasing date movie a thoughtful and satisfying look at the ways we choose or refuse to take responsibility for our lives.

   Angelina Jolie stars as Lanie, reporter for a Seattle TV station with a trademark Marilynesque 'do (that never quite works). She lives a high-profile life as half of a glamour couple with her simple-minded baseball-star fiancé, Cal (Christian Kane), and is on the fast track toward a network job. As preparation for the big time, her boss (Greg Itzin) makes her work with the best cameraman on the team, Pete (Edward Burns, perfectly cast as the hunk with a heart of gold). They've got a classic antagonistic flirtation going on, but only their producer (Max Baker, wonderfully droll) sees through the antagonism to the romantic destiny. More important, Prophet Jack (Tony Shalhoub), denizen of the streets and the subject of one of Lanie's pieces, sees a darker destiny for her: He predicts, along with an accurate Seahawks score and a seemingly absurd forecast of a freak hailstorm, that Lanie will die within the week.

   Thus the self-questioning begins, as Lanie struggles to come to terms with the choices she's made and set things right before her time expires. In the process, predictably, she frees herself of certain preconceptions, but the film takes interesting twists getting to its foregone conclusion. It's refreshing to see Jolie breaking out of the damaged-goods roles she's favored till now. She demonstrates comedic flair as well as vulnerability, and she and Burns spark a believable screen chemistry. The script would have done well to stick with the story's sexy edge rather than lapsing into intermittent hokiness in the final stretches. The late introduction of a significant character in Pete's life serves the sole purpose of emphasizing, unnecessarily, what a really good guy he is. When director Stephen Herek (“Mr. Holland's Opus,” “101 Dalmatians”) lets the fine actors explore their characters' hesitations and regrets, the films clicks effortlessly. Stockard Channing, as a Barbara Walters-type network star, is aces in a small but crucial role. Starring Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns, Tony Shalhoub, Christian Kane, James Gammon, Melissa Errico and Stockard Channing. Directed by Stephen Herek. Written by John Scott Shepherd and Dana Stevens. Produced by Arnon Milchan, John Davis, Chi-Li Wong and Toby Jaffe. A 20th Century Fox release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief violence and language. Running time: 103 min

Tags: Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns, Tony Shalhoub, Christian Kane, James Gammon, Melissa Errico and Stockard Channing. Directed by Stephen Herek. Written by John Scott Shepherd and Dana Stevens. Produced by Arnon Milchan, John Davis, Chi-Li Wong and Toby Jaffe. A 20th Century Fox release. Romantic comedy, preconceptions, comedic, sexy, hokiness, regrets
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