L!fe Happens has the promise of delivering the next Bridesmaids or Sex and the City message of comedic woman empowerment, but falters and only empowers audience members who are against the idea of single motherhood.
With Los Angeles as the backdrop, the film perpetuates the negative personas of the city, and female archetypes in general, in each of the three roommates at the film’s core. Deena’s (Kate Bosworth) “bone-and-bolt” policy is paramount to her attitude that everything is inferior to herself and her own success. Kim (Krysten Ritter) suffers from Peter Pan syndrome and isn’t ashamed of her choices, only the consequences. Laura (Rachel Bilson) is the wholesome, naive, do-anything-to-get-ahead type who pays little regard to the fact that working as a naked sushi serving plate demeans women.
Directed by Kat Coiro, L!fe Happens follows the standard formula of a group of friends trying to figure out how to leave their mark on the world — but with a twist. One of them has an unplanned baby.
Thankfully, the plot skips from the opening scene of best friends Kim and Deena arguing over who should get the last condom — stealing a five-minute section of a 1996 episode of Friends to make an entire movie — to the two friends driving around Los Angeles one year later with Kim’s baby.
If the pregnancy had been included in the movie, it is entirely likely that Kim’s escapades would have included binge drinking and smoking, making her character even less likable and the movie’s runtime longer than the barely manageable hour and 40 minutes.
The film’s supporting cast is its only redeeming quality. Anyone who’s ever hated their boss can relate to Kim’s ultra-obnoxiuos employer, Francesca, played by Kristen Johnson. Francesca’s over-the-top antics are the accumulation of Kim’s frustrations of her dead-end lifestyle. Francesca strings Kim along on the most ridiculous business opportunity ever created for a movie, a doggie mall, and keeps Kim busy walking dogs and managing her charitable dog-related events. This in turn lets Kim wallow in self-pity and insecurities that keep her from making her life, and worse, her baby’s, any better.
After securing a girls night out, Kim meets Nicholas (Geoff Stults) and after a misunderstanding where she thinks he hates children, she lies about having a son and says that the child is her roommate Deena’s. This leads to Kim having to make more elaborate, unnecessary lies.
If she was looking for a one-night-stand, why bother investing in a lie at all? If she was looking for a relationship, how meaningful could the relationship be if it started on that harsh of a lie? Either way, the plot hole is huge and unresolved throughout the film’s and the characters’ growth.
“We just realized that’s the story we wanted to tell, about young girls, figuring out who they are and trying to have it all, but also when you throw a baby in the mix, it creates a whole other set of challenges,” Ritter said in a recent Collider.com interview.
This lazy attitude toward having a baby is one of the many flaws in the storyline. For instance, in the supposed happy ending, Kim ignores the financial responsibilities to her child and quits her job — the only stable part of her life — and then relies on her father’s retirement fund to move out of her shared house with two roommates into her own one-bedroom home in an L.A. suburb.
The audience is supposed to overlook this moral discrepancy for the sake of character development. Kim stops relying on everyone around her to raise her child, keeping her child a secret from anyone willing to buy her a drink at a bar and tries to grow up.
Unfortunately, sitting through L!fe Happens will make the audience feel sorry for no one other than Kim’s baby.