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"Life or Something Like It"

Directed by Stephen Herek.
Written by John Scott Shepherd and Dana Stevens.
Starring Angelina Jolie and Edward Burns.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  5/2/02 


My cousin Ron called me on my way to the theater tonight, and I informed him that I was going to check out this flick.  His reaction?  “Aw, man, what the hell are you doing?”  I’m sure that he followed this up with something about selling out, something about not seeing enough action flicks, etc.  Then, he went back to watching “Return of the Jedi” and living his life.

But see, with summer just a few weeks away, and with bona fide blockbusters two of the next three weekends, I’ve got plenty of time for adrenaline-juiced action.  In the meantime, I’ve got some Angelina Jolie!  In “Life or Something Like It”, Jolie plays local news personality Lanie Kerrigan, a Seattle on-the-street reporter that is up for a big promotion—reporting for the affiliate’s parent station in New York on Today Show rip-off AM USA.  She is driven by her career and is in constant search of approval from her peers, and is leading a perfect life:  she’s dating a Seattle Mariner, she’s got a ritzy apartment, an incredible Benz, and is making big cash.  But, a homeless fortune teller (Tony Shalhoub, once again fabulous in relief) informs Lanie during a broadcast that she is going to die in a week, so in an effort to make up for being a stuck-up bitch, she spends her final week figuring out what life is all about with the help of a former lover named Pete (Edward Burns) that seems to have it all figured out.

No, this plot isn’t that original.  And, no, the movie does nothing truly innovative or earth-shattering during the course of 100 minutes.  Burns is playing himself once again (I’ll admit that Burns is likable, but man, he dials it in like it is his job), and the supporting cast is decidedly pedestrian.  But, I have to say, I liked this movie!  It just went down real nice-like.  Jolie and Shalhoub don’t have incredible material to work with but they are very watchable, and maybe because Jolie is hot I am influenced more by her looks than her lines.

The film moves along briskly and is reasonably suspense-free; it has some decent laughs and some beautiful shots of one of my favorite cities, Seattle.  Damn, I really can’t tell you what it is about this flick that is so good, except that it holds your attention quite well.  There are three things to note with this film:

1) For what might be the first time in movie history, Seattle is depicted as a bright, sunny place.  Over the course of the seven days in the film, it never once rains (it does hail once) and it never looks overcast.  Now, Seattle does have weeks like this in real life, so I give a standing ovation to the filmmakers for finally showing America what Seattle looks like in bright sunlight.

2) This film might have the most shameless promotion of goods & services since the running parody of such items in “Wayne’s World” and its sequel.  Seriously, if you keep your eyes open (and, this is not even counting the promotion of things at Safeco Field and during the NFL highlights in the film), you might see 20 different products that get the seal of approval from characters in the movie.  It made the movie seem much more real than flicks that glaze over what people like to eat, or drink, or listen to their music on.

3) I have done the research on this:  according to interviews with members of the MPAA conducted by The Washington Post last year, every PG-13 film can use the f-word one time, as long as it is of a non-sexual nature.  “Life or Something Like It” does a great job with its one use, during its money sequence, where Kerrigan is singing the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” with a bunch of striking union members.  This scene is not worth the price of admission alone, but hey, it feels good!

I’m sorry I can’t tell you why, but I enjoyed this film.  It won’t stick with you for long after you leave the theater—like a great Chinese dinner—but, you won’t be upset that you slapped down the cash to see “Life or Something Like It.”

Rating:  $9.00 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09