The enormous critical and commercial success of the $288-million-grossing Bridesmaids will likely serve as a line of demarcation of sorts in Hollywood, but the witty, engaging female-oriented comedic ensemble L!fe Happens should come with an asterix, for no mere knock-off is it. Penned before Bridesmaids but only now seeing release, the Los Angeles-set movie, born of collaboration between director Kat Coiro and star Krysten Ritter, winningly marries a female buddy comedy with single mother drama, a pinch of bawdiness, sharp characterizations and some slyly observed situational humor.
There's a Dorothy Parker-esque snap to some the dialogue, delivered with aplomb by in particular Ritter and Kate Bosworth, who exhibit a great rapport. But the thing that is most noteworthy and heartening about L!fe Happens is its emotional and psychological underpinning, which is consistent, and not constructed for sitcom whimsy or scene-to-scene contrivance. Conflicts and resolutions in various relationships are informed by characters' maturations or, as often as not, their chafing at change. Co-writers Coiro and Ritter also deserve credit for addressing the manner in which new friendships often impede or complicate existing ones, particularly in communal living situations. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (PMK*BNC, R, 100 minutes)