Jolie Leads a Superficial ‘Life’

If you learned that you had just one week to live, how would you spend the time? Would you surround yourself with relatives and loved ones? Or maybe pass your final days in a dark movie theater, reclining in your stadium-style seat, soda in one hand, Raisinets in the other and popcorn in your lap? Well, probably not the latter. But if, by some chance, there is someone out there who would indeed opt for a cinematic finale, then please pass over Life Or Something Like It—and not just because its subject matter would hit too close to home.

The latest film from director Stephen Herek (Mr. Holland’s Opus, Rock Star) could have been a moving, thoughtful tale about living for yourself rather than for others. It could have been a career-expanding project for star Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted; Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), who plays a platinum-blonde, image-obsessed reporter—a role very different from her usual dark, tortured femme fatales. However, after a promising opening sequence in which Jolie’s voiceover suggests that this will be a thoughtful, introspective movie, it quickly shows its true colors. Life Or Something Like It is romantic dramedy at its most uninspired, neither particularly funny nor especially moving.

Lanie Kerigan (Jolie) is a Seattle television reporter who has it all. She’s beautiful, her fianceé plays baseball in the big leagues, and now she finally has a shot at a big-time network job that could make her famous. However, that world is turned upside down when she interviews Prophet Jack (Tony Shalhoub), a homeless man who shouts messages from God while standing on a crate in the street each day. All she wants from him is a weather forecast and a Seahawks game score: what she gets is a death sentence: he tells her she will die the following Thursday. At first, Lanie is incredulous, but when Jack’s other prophecies start coming true, dread and desperation seize her. As Thursday fast approaches, she begins to reevaluate her life and priorities with the help of Pete (Edward Burns), a camera operator at her news station with whom she has a rocky relationship.

Unfortunately clunky writing sinks Life. In particular, screenwriter John Scott Shepherd (Joe Somebody) has a cringe-worthy habit of using dialogue for exposition (“Remember when this happened? You know, right after Dad died?”). A conversation gimmick between Pete and Lanie that is cute at first becomes tired and lame by the fifth or sixth time it is repeated. Furthermore, with its uneven pacing, awkward dialogue, spotty acting and skeletal characters, this American Beauty wannabe fails everywhere the 1999 film succeded.

Ultimately, Jolie is the best part of Life Or Something Like It. Unfortunately, that’s not saying a lot, considering the cast’s fairly lifeless supporting players. While her performance does have its moments—Lanie’s moments of dumbstruck awe at Jack’s successful clairvoyance, and its implications for her fate, are believable enough—she has to struggle against the script, and in the end it’s a losing battle. Despite her best efforts, we never really get a sense of who Lanie is, making it difficult for an audience to take an interest in her trevails. In the end, after I learned of Lanie’s fate, the film promptly vanished from my consciousness without a trace, like many a mediocre romantic dramedy before it.



Life Or Something Like It

Directed By Stephen Herek

Starring Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns

20th Century Fox