Angelina Jolie does refreshing turn in so-so 'Life or Something
By Susan Stark
The Detroit News
|LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT (Rated PG-13 for sexual content, violence, language) Two Stars (Fair)
Angelina Jolie takes a break from her dark, quirky roles to star in a romantic comedy about a reporter who takes a psychic's prediction to heart. Also starring Ed Burns, Tony Shalhoub, Stockard Channing. Directed by Stephen Herek. 20th Century Fox, 100 minutes.
An original young performer who has made her mark in dark, highly quirky roles, Jolie stars here in a simplistic romantic comedy. It has a spiritual element that means to give viewers pause but seems far more likely to give them giggling fits.
Jolie plays a platinum blond bombshell who's an ambitious Seattle TV news reporter. When the movie finds her, she's at the top of her game. She has a sharp pad, a sharp car, a sharp sports hero for a boyfriend and a shot at a top network job in New York City.
On the job, quite by chance, she runs into a shaggy bum of a sidewalk prophet who declares that she will die within a week. He makes other, far less personal predictions as well. About sporting event outcomes. About the weather.
When those predictions come to pass our heroine becomes truly unnerved.
"Life or Something Like It" then tracks her reaction to the prophetic bum's theory that she has one week's worth of life to live the professionally driven one she has chosen or a better one, a life more rooted in the core values of love, family, simplicity.
Bottom line: This is a movie that rather crudely, if sincerely, addresses the dicey, at least tenuous predicament of a woman who has worked all her life to get to the big time but who is unhinged by a crazy man's suggestion that she's doomed to check out. Soon.
The operative thought, of course, is that the drive to success, fame and power is as nothing compared to the joys of the simple life. "Life Or Something Like It" works at a silly level in its attempt to prove that driven, disciplined, single-minded career-oriented people are missing their best shot at making a truly satisfying life especially if they're women.
Edward Burns, as a scruffy TV cameraman who has been and rejected the professional place where Jolie's character is determined to go, downplays his role with customary charm and conviction. It's a role clearly written to prove the picture's thematic point, but Burns actually manages to make it lively and, at points, quite beguiling.
In a bit part as a seasoned female TV pioneer in the Barbara Walters mold, Stockard Channing provides a wide, genuinely moving perspective.
Finally, though, there's not much reason to watch "Life or Something Like It" outside the circle that holds Jolie as one of contemporary moviedom's few, true performing originals. She's absolutely her own woman. That has never been more clear than here.
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, violence, language.