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review added: 10/1/02



Life or Something Like It
2002 (2002) - Regency Enterprises (20th Century Fox)

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Life or Something Like It Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/D

Specs and Features

103 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary by director Stephen Herek, animated film-themed menus with music, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French and Spanish (DD 2.0 Surround), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

Lanie Kerigan (Angelina Jolie) has the perfect life. She's a popular newscaster on the rise at a local Seattle TV station. She's engaged to a star slugger for the Seattle Mariners. She's stunningly beautiful in an artificial, perfectly constructed sort of way. She's healthy, she eats right. Life, in total, is perfect. It gets even better when Lanie's station manager tells her that he's sending her resume tape up to the network, which is looking for a new face for their national morning show. But Lanie has to do one thing first... she needs to learn better camera skills.

Enter camera ace and former network shooter Pete (Ed Burns). Pete and Lanie are teamed up to help spruce up Lanie's image, which is difficult, because they hate each other. One morning, while shooting on the streets of Seattle, Pete introduces Lanie to Prophet Jack (Tony Shalhoub), a homeless street psychic who tells Lanie the score of the Seahawks/Broncos game later that night, that it's going to hail in the morning... and that she's going to die in a week. Lanie laughs it off, of course, but when the football game and the hailstorm both come to pass as predicted, Lanie's suddenly forced to deal with the possibility that she may indeed be about to die. She begins to reevaluate her life... and Pete gives her a shoulder to cry on. You can probably guess what happens next.

Life or Something Like It is a startlingly average romantic comedy. The main problem here is that there's nothing really unique about it. It's got that kind of fanciful touch that Hollywood seems to love, and it deals with the classic touchstone issues of love and loss and screwed up values. But what makes the film work, in as much as it does, is the sheer charisma of Angelina Jolie. If you like this film, she's probably the only reason why. Her character is supposed to be that sort of fluffy, fake person who looks good on TV but no one really likes. So the story starts with that hamstring. Jolie does manage to get you to like this girl, with her charm, the sparkle in her eyes and just that general glowing aura that is Jolie - a neat trick. But just when the film gets going, Lanie and Pete start to become attracted to one another. Make no mistake... Jolie and Burns have good chemistry. But that's all it is - good. There are no real sparks to light up the screen, which this film needs. As charismatic as Jolie is... Burns just isn't. It's not his fault as an actor... I just think his character was miscast. So the romance takes on a sort of lopsided feeling.

The other problem is that there feels like there's a lot of material that was cut from the film at the last minute, dealing with Lanie's backstory. She wasn't always the popular, pretty girl, and there seem to be a lot of troubled family issues that are hinted at, but which seem to have no emotional connection with the rest of the film. Director Stephen Herek hints at some of this in his commentary. Ultimately, I think this film needed a re-write to unify these two story threads more. As it is, this is an okay film... but it's too easily forgotten.

Quality-wise, this is a nice disc. The video is available in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame, and while neither is reference quality, it's very good overall. There's good and accurate color, with really excellent contrast and shadow detailing. Grain isn't an issue and the print is quite clean, as one would expect of a new film. You will notice light edge enhancement on occasion, as well as light digital compression artifacting. All in all though, this a very solid transfer.

The audio portion of the disc is actually its strongest suit. For a dialogue-heavy film, this is an excellent sound mix. The front stage is surprisingly wide, with excellent clarity for both dialogue and music. The surrounds are nicely active, not for gimmicky directional effects, but rather to deepen the sound environment - the sense of depth to the space. There's plenty of ambience and rear reinforcement. Music is rich and well blended in the mix, and the LFE channel fills in nicely on the low end, particularly during the soundtrack passages.

In terms of extras, you get one thing and one thing only... an audio commentary by director Stephen Herek. Like the film, the commentary is rather average. Herek has a few interesting things to say, but there just aren't a lot of interesting things to say about this movie period. He talks about the actors, the filming difficulties, etc. He seems like a decent guy who knows his craft, but this is nothing you haven't heard before on a million other commentaries.

Life or Something Like It isn't a great film by any means, but it's not really a bad film either. It's simply a predictable and very average romantic comedy, that's given just a little extra something by Jolie's charming performance. If you're a fan of films like this, I'd say this film is definitely worth a rental. On the other hand, if you really love Jolie, then you'll probably be happy owning this disc. Either way, go in with no to low expectations and the film just might give you a smile or two.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com




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