LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT
Life or Something Like It is formulaic light romance. The premise is a mildly interesting one what would someone do if they learned that they had only seven days to live? but the playing out of this is handled with a glossy blandness and thorough insipidity. For one, Angelina Jolie is badly miscast in the central role. The role as it is written is one that requires the central character to go through a growing self-awareness and paring away of their image but with Jolie cast, the role lacks any self-awareness. Jolie acts with the same lack of expression whether she is playing an image-absorbed woman or someone who has supposedly discovered the joy of life. On the other hand, Edward Burns has a depth that Jolie does not one has the sneaking suspicion that the film may have worked far better had the central role been cast with him rather than her.
The problem also extends to Life or Something Like Its own blandness of approach. Rather than a film about someone receiving a disturbing prophecy about their own imminent mortality, all that we have is a film about the discovery of joie de vivre about Angelina Jolies realization that her fiancé does not love her, that someone else does, of reconnecting with her father, of discovering the joy of kids, of letting her hair down and going slightly crazy. It is more of a sentimental story about someone coming to a realization of what matters in life. There is the occasional scene that does work like Jolies attempt to have a meaningful discussion with her fiancé and sudden realization that they do not connect on anything beyond a superficial level but little of the film comes with any feeling.
Moreover, what the film lacks to an extent that completely defies credulity is any sense of anxiety or fear on Angelina Jolies part about her approaching mortality. She expresses such little concern about this prospect that the films scenario seems almost impossible to accept. Even the ending is a total cop out. [SPOILER ALERT] Here Jolie is caught in an accidental crossfire, we get cliche images of her going up into the white light but this turns out not to be the case and she survives. In a total cheat piece of sleight of hand, we then learn that what was meant by her death was the figurative reference to a part of her (her old self) dying. No matter what way one looks at it, it reads as COP OUT.
Stephen Herek has made a number of light comedies and popular dramas that include Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991), The Mighty Ducks (1992), The Three Musketeers (1993), Mr Holland's Opus (1995), Holy Man (1998), Rock Star (2001) and Man of the House (2005). Hereks other genre films include Critters (1986), Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure (1989), the remake of 101 Dalmatians (1996) and the afterlife comedy Dead Like Me: Life After Death (2009).