L!fe Happens is the movie I wanted Bridesmaids to be. It actually feels like it’s a woman’s voice, yet it’s easily relatable comedy. Kat Coiro’s debut feature makes some of the same mistakes as other standard Hollywood movies, but it gets a lot more right.
Kim (Krysten Ritter) and Deena (Kate Bosworth) are BFF roommates. One night when there’s only one condom left, Kim has unprotected sex and gets pregnant. The lesson, ladies, is: always keep an extra stash of condoms. Deena helps with the baby and tries to help Kim start dating again.
Coiro manages to make lip-syncing to Chamillionaire seem cool. I think the sheer omission of hairbrushes as microphones is the key. But Coiro has fun in the editing, with jump cuts and speed ramping to make genre tropes pay off a punchline. Deena’s library hookup is all in the timing.
For the sheer fact that you get to watch three pretty girls (Rachel Bilson is their other roommate, the virgin Laura) be charming, L!fe Happens is a tolerable date movie. Bosworth is awesome, adding “dude” and “man” to sentences like a feminist Spicoli. She can eat an apple judgmentally. They make her too the extreme on the emotionally stunted man hater front, but Bosworth makes a happy dance look cute.
There is some refreshing honesty about the realities of raising kids. Kim breast feeds simply because she doesn’t have money for formula. The dialogue is pretty snappy too, and has a light touch with the virgin jokes. Laura comes across as innocent, but noble. These women do a really good job of raising the baby, so those are positiv role models to put on screen.
At that point it’s shocking when the film pulls a Hollywood cliché. Dreamboat Nathan (Geoff Stults) makes a negative comment about kids, so Kim pretends the baby is Deena’s. Then Kim and Deena have to keep up the ruse. Why spoil this character-driven dramedy with a gimmick out of a Kate Hudson movie? At least the moment that gives Kim away is a Something About Mary worthy shocker.
The script by Coiro and Ritter gives the characters generic jobs, because all these movies have to have some end game. Deena is an author and Kim is a dog walker with big plans for her own dog mall. That establishes Deena’s rise and Kim’s stagnation, and gives Deena more opportunities to espouse theories on gender roles. For that reason it feels more functional than organic to the story.
L!fe Happens got the characters, the bonding and the tone right, so that’s a triumph. You could almost forgive the clichéd baby secret and the spelling out of themes via plot devices. We won’t, but I’m ready to see what Coiro and Ritter do next because I think they’ve got something to say and they’ll keep getting better. L!fe Happens is a pretty good start.