LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT
directed by Stephen Herek with Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns, Tony Shalhoub, and Stockard Channing opens April 26 at Meridian, Oak Tree, and others
THE ONLY GOOD thing about this muddled, generic live-for-today flick is that it's set in Seattle. The movie stars Angelina Jolie as a TV reporter whose death is foretold by a homeless prophet (Tony Shalhoub). Death? Like, who's got time for that?
Our fabulously busy, surface-oriented heroine Lanie has everything: a Marilyn-meets-Lara Croft physique; a high-profile job with network potential; a fianc頷ho plays for the Mariners; even a Benz convertible. Sure enough, according to formula, as the prophet's other dubious predictions come true (the Seahawks beat the Broncos), Lanie actually tries to figure out what's meaningful in her presumably dwindling life. (These ruminations come against a backdrop of our skyline, the monorail, the Icon Grill, Safeco Field, and half of Vancouver, B.C., resulting in some jarringly inconsistent visuals.)
Among other local incongruities, KOMO-TV gets more hype than during its own broadcasts. Look for familiar faces and the station's logo— altered to KQMO—as our hometown newscasters steal scenes from the headliners. (Steve Pool, we always knew you had big-screen charisma.)
Meanwhile, contemplating death, Lanie also turns her attention to Edward Burns' snarky TV cameraman. His character is supposedly attracted to Jolie's, but Burns looks equally unconvinced by the necessity of leaving New York for Seattle (and Vancouver). Most of the time he's expressionless, as though still confused that we don't have Zabar's out here. Little time is spent establishing plausible chemistry between these two, whose venomous bickering—again according to formula—sparks eventual passion.
In this way, the final "live every day as if it were your last" moral of Life or Something Like It hovers noncommittally between romantic comedy and drama without securing a viable foothold in either. Lanie's sense of imminent doom could've used a few more yuks—or, conversely, some profound moments. Her hypothetical angst gets lost in a mix of bad Altoids metaphors, equally bad adolescent flashbacks, and Stockard Channing's turn as a Diane Sawyer- type diva.
She of the larger-than-life lips and come-hither snarl, Jolie feels out of place in Life's quest for authenticity. Her character never seems to get what's at stake, nor does Jolie convince us of Lanie's urgency. When all's said, done, and lived, viewers will be left wondering why, if Lanie's so concerned about ditching the superficial for the genuine, does she keep that awful, awful hairdo?