||There’s a common uncivil variant of the title “L!fe Happens” that some will feel applies better to Kat Coiro’s formulaic movie than the one it’s been given, but that’s less kind to the picture than it deserves. It’s not particularly good, to be sure, but some may find it acceptable as an impoverished Los Angeles-set analogue to “Sex and the City.”
Krysten Ritter, who co-wrote the script with Coiro, stars as Kim, whom we meet rooming with Deena (Kate Bosworth). One night, while both are lustily engaged in separate beds, Deena claims the last condom in the apartment (apparently neither fellow came prepared), and before you know it a year has passed and Kim is working at an upscale doggie-care palace under an abrasive, demanding boss (scenery-chewing Kristen Johnston) while struggling to care for her infant son—a situation that’s further exacerbated when the dad, a single surfer dude, announces that he’s off to Australia. (There’s no indication that Kim even considered any option other than keeping the baby, which seems a trifle odd.) She’s still living with Deena, now revealed as an aspiring but undiscovered writer, and with another roommate, a dishy ditz named Laura (Rachel Bilson) who flits from job to job; and both of them help out with the tyke as much as they can. (How, given their uncertain employment, the threesome can afford the handsome house they share is another unexplained plot element.) But Kim’s still pretty frazzled.
Under the circumstances her romantic life has stalled, but at a fund-raiser hosted by her boss she meets a handsome, sensitive guy (Geoff Stults). And to increase her chances, she tells him her son is actually Deena’s, setting up the sitcom-style device the plot will henceforth depend on for many of its complications. Meanwhile, Deena has the apparent misfortune to catch the eye of the fellow’s friend (Justin Kirk), a would-be ladies’ man who calls himself Henri, offers some egregiously absurd come-ons and becomes what amounts to a good-natured stalker. And Laura finds success as a contestant on a “last virgin standing” (or at least not lying down) reality TV show.
As you might expect, everything turns out well for all the characters—save Johnston’s nasty boss—in typical TV-level fashion. And the dialogue, which sounds like stuff poring from a word processor rather than any real human being’s mouth, is of similar quality, as is the acting by a cast that also includes Fallon Goodson as Deena’s free-living chum and cameos by Jason Biggs and Seymour Cassel.
“L!fe Happens” looks like the low-budget independent production it is, decent but without any distinctive visual character to speak of. It’s amiable enough, but would play better as the pilot for a network ensemble comedy. Unfortunately, that would entail additional episodes—something most of us would hardly welcome.