Life or Something Like It Review

Lanie (Angelina Jolie) is an up and coming anchorwoman for a local TV news team who clearly loves herself just a little too much. When she is presented with the chance of a big break with a national network channel she has to prove her worth with some work on the ground. Unfortunately, she is teamed up with cameraman Pete (Edward Burns), neither of whom can stand each other. One of her assignments brings her into contact with a local homeless eccentric with psychic powers, who predicts an unlikely result for the local team in the football final and an unseasonal shower of hail for the next morning. When the first two predictions come true, Lanie starts worrying about his third prediction that she will die next week...

Half an hour in and everything is already falling into place with calculated predictability. With its stock characters and situations, there is little really to elevate this above the level of an average sitcom. Angelina Jolie pouts prettily and plays her part as capably as anyone, but there is nothing particularly challenging about playing a stuck-up, superficial character with no real depth. Lanie is rich, famous and successful, dating a celebrity baseball star, but she lacks real love in her life. The sudden realisation of her impending demise predictably provides her with a few life lessons and affirmations, but the major life-style changes she undergoes slot into place all too easily without causing any major emotional pain or upheaval.

Nevertheless, if you don’t take it all too seriously - and I don’t think you are supposed to - there is some entertainment to be found in here. Edward Burns provides some perfunctory comedic exchanges, trading insults and snappy put-downs with such insincerity that you know they’ll be in bed together before the end of the film. Unfortunately, the film isn’t content with the traditional romantic comedy template and feels the need to provide some gag-inducing, uplifting messages along the way - "The only person who has to think you’re special is yourself" and "Live every day as if it was your last" (no, seriously – they really do use these lines!). Almost as revolting is the sickly AOR soundtrack, only enlivened by a Foo Fighters track over the end titles, although even that sounds rather tame in the context of this film.

The picture is presented in anamorphic widescreen at 2.35:1 and the quality is good, but not exceptional. There are very few marks here and there, but no real problems. Where the lighting is good and in outdoor scenes with plenty of contrast, the image comes across strongly. Darker interior scenes have a comparative flatness, but still hold up well enough although colours overall lack a certain richness. The DVD is only a single layer disc, but as there is no extra material or soundtracks competing for space, this quite adequate for the film.

The soundtrack is strong and well-presented. Surrounds are not used to any great degree and mainly used to spread out the musical score of the film.

Absolutely nothing, not even a trailer. I suppose as a reviewer I should be grateful, as the thought of sitting through a commentary track or a making of this film would I think have been beyond the call of duty. Considering the lack of extra material, the DVD is available for less than full-price.

ConclusionBroadcast News has shown that it is possible to make an American romantic comedy set in a TV news room, yet still have a bit of a satirical bite and have half-way believable characters with realistic life trajectories. Life or Something Like It is nowhere in the same league, but it is (mostly) harmless, bland entertainment that will hardly offend anyone. The only demands this film will make on you is on your time, and I suppose there are worse things you can do with your time than look at Angelina Jolie for an hour and a half.

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