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Life or Something Like It

Life for Lanie Kerigan (Angelina Jolie) is good — if a tad superficial. The bottle-blonde TV personality enjoys a career working for a Seattle network affiliate, she has a nice apartment, and she's engaged to marry handsome pro baseball player Cal Cooper (Christian Kane). Such things satisfy Lanie's boundless ambition, which is further emboldened when she's told she's up for a spot on the national morning broadcast "AM USA," based in New York. But in order to brush up her skills, her producer puts her back on the street with his best videographer Pete (Edward Burns), a cynical, disheveled fellow who holds as much affection for Lanie's hairspray-rigid coiffure as she does for his flannel shirts and inattention to shaving. It's Pete who takes Lanie on one of her first assignments, to interview homeless street crank "Prophet Jack" (Tony Shalhoub), who prognosticates on camera that the Seahawks will win that night's ballgame, it will hail the next morning, and Lanie will die the following Thursday. At first Lanie brushes the event off, but when the first two predictions materialize, she lapses into a life-altering emotional crisis, unsure if she's made the right choices for herself over the years. Life or Something Like It (2002) marks Angelina Jolie's first foray into the romantic-comedy genre — it's a far remove from where she built her reputation in films such as Foxfire (1996), Girl, Interrupted (1999), and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). She's hardly Meg Ryan or Ashley Judd, and she starts this film with two strikes against her — she's not as attractive as a blonde, and she's an annoying material girl. But the setup is necessary for all that follows, and Jolie navigates the part well, mining some amusing bits out of her frivolous role (she's particularly snarky and fun when interviewing Prophet Jack). Her interaction with Burns also helps — the two characters share an unspoken history, and their initial scenes sparkle with acrid little comments. Burns is note-perfect, never over-selling his character and appearing as comfortable in the part as an old pair of Levis. It's the middle third of the film that is the most charming, when Lanie trades her TV persona for a bit of college-era grunge, and later when she spends a day with Pete and his young son. Unfortunately, the actors have to wade through a lot of second-rate material, and the script (by John Scott Shepherd) is far more clichéd than inspired — Lanie's relationships with her snooty sister, dumb-jock fiance, and semi-invalid father play like Lifetime Channel material, and when the final act finds Lanie in New York interviewing her personal hero, TV personality Deborah Connors (Stockard Channing), the story almost has to bend over backwards to arrive at a conclusion. Regrettably, the conclusion itself is another obvious cliché presented as moral exegesis — unfortunate for viewers who perhaps are just looking for a simple love story in the end. Not necessarily a good film, but a film with a lot of good moments. Fox's DVD release of Life or Something Like It presents both anamorphic (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan (1.33:1) transfers with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Includes a chatty commentary with director Stephen Herek (Rock Star). Keep-case.

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