DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Ultra HD
International DVDs
Video Games

Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds

Sponsored Links

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Life or Something Like it
Life or Something Like it
Fox // PG-13 // October 15, 2002
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 12, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Printer Friendly
The Movie:

"Life or Something Like It" is a film that seems to have been put into production with a script that had the final story, but little idea of tone or additional possibilities for situations to put the characters into. Although advertised as a romantic comedy, the film only briefly attempts light humor while remaining rather somber for the remainder. Although the film could have gone the dark comedy route of the Bill Murray picture "Scrooged" or even further into glum territory, there's only one problem: the film's main character, Lanie (Angelina Jolie) is not developed enough, nor does the film seem to know how to develop her eventual "turn-around" in a very involving manner.

To back up a bit: "Life Or Something Like It" stars Jolie as Laine, a Seattle anchorwoman who seemingly has everything she wants: a high-paying job with the possibility of a serious promotion on the horizon; a super-duper house and a nice figure. She's then teamed up with Pete (Ed Burns, once again seemingly playing himself), a cameraman and former boyfriend who she hates. One morning, he introduces her to Prophet Jack (Tony Shalhoub), a homeless psychic who gives her several predictions, including that she only has a week left - period.

Although she thinks that Pete's playing another practical joke, when the other predictions come true, Lanie really has to take a look at her life. No bonus points for those who predict Pete and Lanie fall for one another, as it's obvious going in, but still nicely handled. The romance between the two is the center of the picture and it's one of the film's few bright spots. While Burns seems to be not entirely involved, his bickering with Jolie's character is playful and amusing enough and their gradual liking of one another is fairly believable. There's other potentially better casting choices for these roles, but these two do fine enough.

As I discussed before, "Life" can't seem to decide on its tone, which hurts the picture. While most of the film seems awfully serious, there are some terrific scenes, such as one where a drunken Lanie leads a group of striking transit workers in a chorus of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction". While a potentially cheesy moment and an unlikely one with the pre-packaged chatter that most news shows offer, it's nice to see the film finally let loose for once.

The performances aren't half bad, either. Burns really doesn't have much of a character to work with, nor does he seem particularly involved, but he manages to work well with Jolie and that's really all that counts here. As for Jolie, she doesn't look quite right as a bleached blonde, but her first peformance in a comedy (or at least a film that was supposed to be one) is confident and fairly skilled. I just would have liked the character arc to be a bit stronger and for the character to start off a bit meaner and a bit more self-absorbed. She doesn't seem that bad to begin with and change to this character seems like it would only require re-examining a few choices, shuffling her priorities around and a little more personal time away from work. A painting class, maybe?

A few other things don't work: an appearance by Stockard Channing (who does offer a terrific performance) late in the film as a nasty pro reporter is rather awkward, although I suppose director Herek is trying to make the Channing character "what Lanie could be in 15 years." The film's final 20 minutes don't work particularly well and not only seem like a different movie, but start to muddle whatever message the film was trying to get across. The ending is especially in need of work, as I imagine it could have been handled in several different - and better - ways. Technically, the film is pretty standard: Although I rarely question the choice of aspect ratio, director Stephen Herek and cinematographer Stephen H. Burum don't manage many interesting compositions with the 2.35:1 frame. Certainly, other comedies (cinematographer László Kovács' work in "My Best Friend's Wedding" or Robert D. Yeoman's brilliant (almost poetic at times) visuals in all three Wes Anderson films) have put the 2.35:1 frame to better use. There's also some editing tricks randomly thrown in to jazz up scenes, but these instances call too much attention to themselves.

There's a lot of movies that don't work and seem to have little potential to have made themselves into something. "Life or Something Like It", on the other hand, seems as if it could have worked better with a more ambitious director than Stephen Herek ("Rock Star") and a reimagined last quarter. As is, it's a fairly forgettable romantic drama, carried largely by Jolie's performance.


VIDEO: "Life or Something Like It" is presented by 20th Century Fox in both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 heavily cropped pan & scan. Both editions have their own single-layer side of a dual-sided disc. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is perfectly acceptable, but there's nothing terribly great about it. As for "Life Or Something Like It", the picture remained crisp throughout, with respectable detail and clarity.

The print is the high point of the usual discussion of concerns: there's really nothing amatter with it, aside from a few little specks that pop up towards the corners of the frame. On the other hand, there are some noticable instances of edge enhancement and a few minor instances of artifacts, although neither flaw proves to be much of a distraction.

As I didn't see the film in theaters, its unexpectedly subdued color palette may have been intentional, but the locations suggest the possibility of a more vivid appearance. Black level is decent, while flesh tones look fine.

SOUND: The film's soundtrack fares a bit better. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, this is still clearly a "comedy" soundtrack, but the way that it puts the music to use is very pleasant. The wide front soundstage balances the music, dialogue and occasional ambient sounds quite superbly, while the surrounds provide terrific and punchy reinforcement of the tunes. There's still not a whole lot going on here, but sound quality is above-average and the music is handled quite well.

MENUS: Fairly ordinary animated main menu, putting short clips to basic use.

EXTRAS: The only supplement here is a commentary from director Stephen Herek. Herek provides an unexpectedly energetic and pretty informative track for the first half of the film, but the pauses between comments start to become more frequent as the film heads into the second half. His attempt at an explanation of the ending as it is in the final film is also definitely one of the few low points of the track.

Final Thoughts: "Life or Something Like It" remained a decent comedy/drama that, with a bit of work, a different ending, some additional focus on a tone and development of characters, could have been a considerably better film. Fox's DVD provides slightly above-average audio/video and a decent supplement in the commentary. Those who haven't seen it and are interested might want to check it out as a rental.

Popular Reviews
1. Endless Night
2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (4K Ultra HD)
3. Max and the Junkmen
4. Uncut Gems
5. The Point
6. Ten Commandments Digibook
7. Richard Jewell
8. Sonic the Hedgehog (Digital Preview)
9. Boyz N the Hood (4K Ultra HD)
10. The Wizard (Collector's Edition)

Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2020 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use