“L!fe Happens”
“L!fe Happens” has a curiously amateurish feel to it, which is very distracting, at least until we can start caring about the characters, which takes far too long.
Kim (Krysten Ritter, who also wrote the script) and Deena (Kate Bosworth, noticeably de-glamorized) are girls who just want to have fun. They’re young and attractive and slim and like to have a good time, so they have no dearth of suitors. But one fateful night they have only one condom between them, and Kim decides she’ll take the chance and go without, and sure enough, bingo.
Their other roommate, Laura (Rachel Bilson), now pairs up with Deena on girls night out forays, and Kim, the reluctant Mom, is left home to care for an adorable little toddler who is cute and sweet, but nonetheless still needs lots of attention. The Dad quickly departs, saying he didn’t bargain for this (and, to be completely fair, he really didn’t, though his abandonment feels far too easily undertaken and accepted). Kim, at first, counts on her roommates for help, but seems disappointed when they aren’t really very enthusiastic about giving up their own freedom for the sake of helping to raise her kid (Duh). Then Kim, when she does try to go back to her old ways of flirtatiously picking up guys, discovers that having a kid in tow is kind of a turn-off for the party crowd (Duh). Kim seems surprised to discover she has more in common with other young Moms than her determined-to-be-single roommates (Duh), and finally, in desperation, hires a way-too-young neighbor kid as baby-sitter, who has absolutely no experience, and quickly finds himself overwhelmed (double Duh).
So when Kim does happen to meet a guy she’s actually interested in, she impulsively lies. She says her roommate is the one with the baby, and she’s the one who helps, occasionally. Nicolas (Geoff Stults), it turns out, has his own secret---he’s recently separated, but not yet divorced---but that doesn’t stop either one of them from playing out their own deceits to see where it will go. Meanwhile, their respective best friends, Deena and Henri (an initially obnoxious Justin Kirk) are sort of thrown together, at first not very successfully.
Yes, there are some comedic moments, somewhat on the earthy side (breast milk unexpectedly squirting during a casual sexual encounter?), but it’s interesting what the female writers and director do with this women’s comedy, post-“Bridesmaids”: we’ll talk about sex, but we aren’t going to show our bodies. We’ll nurse during a conversation scene, but we’ll discreetly cover up with a blanket. We’ll parody the sounds of ardent lovemaking behind closed doors, but we won’t actually do any of it. And, in the end, it’s not about the guys, anyway, it’s about the relationships between the women.
Well, OK, mujeres, if that’s how you want to play this, fine, but don’t expect the hombres to be lining up to watch it.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas