Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Life Or Something Like It

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief violence and language

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Romance Comedy Drama
1 hr. 52 min.

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns, Tony Shalhoub, Christian Kane, Stockard Channing | Directed by: Stephen Herek | Produced by: Arnon Milchan, John Davis, Chi-Li Wong, Toby Jaffe, Ken Atchity | Written by: John Scott Shepherd, Dana Stevens | Distributor: 20th Century Fox

What aspects of our lives motivate and determine our decisions? Why does it take something as monumental as the events of 9/11 to have some rearrange their priorities? I am not exactly sure about the answers to those questions, but I do know that Jesus did have a lot to say on the subject of “Life or other matters like that.”

In Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Toward the end of Jesus’ Earthly ministry, He was explaining to the disciples that He was going to die, but will rise again. In Matthew 16:25, Jesus underscored that verse again. In fact, this verse is repeated several times in all four gospels. So where can we find the life changing experience? Jesus answered that question in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one come to the Father except through me.”

Many others have tried to give a summary to the subject of life. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” George Bernard Shaw put it this way “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Mark Twain felt that “Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: that is the ideal life.”

Angelina Jolie in “Life or Something Like It” Lanie Kerrigan (Angelina Jolie) seems to have the ideal life (a sleepy conscience included). She is a spirited blond TV reporter working in the Seattle market. Her life appears to the casual observer as “perfect” (just ask her sister). Ms. Kerrigan has a promising career that includes offers from a network show in New York called “AM USA.” She is engaged to Cal Cooper (Christian Kane), who just happens to play for the Seattle Mariners. Yes, our story drips with all the superficial trappings that people either admire or strive for in life.

Writers John Scott Shepherd and Dana Stevens try to throw in an ex-boyfriend to yield a plausible love triangle (what would Hollywood ever do if they left out that plot point). Cameraman Pete (Edward Burns) enters the scene and creates some romantic aggregation. This includes some not-so-funny sophomoric tricks to embarrass Lanie as she tries to do her job.

Chris Shyer and Angelina Jolie in “Life or Something Like It” Life, however, does not become complicated for our reporter until she interviews a homeless man named Prophet Jack (Tony Shalhoub). Lanie’s interview begins as a friendly fluff piece for the TV station and ends as a life-changing event. Prophet Jack, while spouting off some predictions, tells our heroine that she is going to die next Thursday. This event begins to shape Lanie’s thinking and her well ordered life. Basically her shallow life becomes less shallow, but with some faint resemblance of meaning.

This film, yet another watered-down version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, fails as a vehicle to deliver an Oscar to Jolie, fails as a romantic-comedy, and certainly fails as a worthy full-price admission ticket pick. Objectionable content includes some uses of the F-word, scenes implying premarital sex, and frequent usage of tobacco and alcohol. If I had the time, it would be interesting to find out who set stakes on this money trail for 20th Century Fox. There are several product endorsements, including Camel cigarettes (after all who needs Joe Camel if young people can watch Jolie light up and drink up?). The other disturbing reality is Jolie’s young fan base. I was amazed at how many pre-teen and teenage girls were in the audience swallowing these phony messages about life.

While it is true that you can change your path and make the outcome of your life different, that change is not the sum of choices, but is rather the extension of what we believe. The truth of the matter is that the best and lasting change of life begins and continues in the person of Jesus Christ. My personal recommendation is to skip this one for full admission price, or perhaps rent it later on. It does offer an example of how the world views life, or something like it.

Editor’s comment: For a similar storyline from a Christian producer, see Christiano Film Group’s “The Appointment” (1991)
Year of Release—2002
Viewer Comments
Positive—I really liked the overall message that this movie put out, and I think that it is one that all people can benefit from. Lanie learns through her interaction with the people in her so-called perfect life that she really needs something more than the perfect job, significant other, body and wardrobe. The only objection that I had was that some of the characters acted like sex was the number one priority when someone had one week left to live. Had they skipped the sex and stuck with how much people and relationships mattered the movie would have been much better and more affirming! Overall, I’d say that this is a good movie for people who are mature enough to understand that pre-marital sex is wrong no matter when you do it, and who can understand that the “american dream” may not be all they want to reach for. I agree with a previous reviewer who quoted from Matthew 26, it’s more important to be right with God than to gain the whole world.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—K., age 19
Negative—The importance of family, friends, and relationships are good as Lanie makes positive changes in her life. BUT, the film includes a some foul language and a strongly implied premarital sexual encounter, which makes the production fall short of my recommendation. Without the message of premarital sex as acceptable and use of several obscenities, teens and adults could enjoy this movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 1]
—jfin, age 36
Positive—My wife and I somewhat enjoyed this movie. It pretty much portrays the world as it really is for a lot of people. The one thing we seem to avoid talking about is death. This movie makes us think about it. It enforces the message that “love” is more important than things and careers. The only thing that bothered me in this film was that, sex seems to be OK as long as you love each other. (Even if you’re not married) Jesus went further than the movie did when He said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Matt:16:26 The movie concentrates only on “Love for people” and leaves out “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,” and “Go and sin no more.” As a whole, it has a good message even for born again Christians.
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
—Jerry, age 49
Comments from young people
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie! There were a few questionable parts such as pre-marital sex, drinking and smoking, but the overall message is positive. It makes the point of living every moment of your life to the fullest, because we have no way of knowing when it will end. Jollie did a nice job of coming across as a self-absorbed woman, but then going from that to the live live while you have it attitude! I loved this movie!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Jessica, age 14
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie. Angelina Jolie did a great job acting the part, and the movie was well-done. The ending was a little too rushed, I believe, but still a satisfying resolution. There was not as much profanity as in most movies, but what it contained was strong, at about 5 S-words and 1 F-word. There was talk about sex, but nothing was shown. When she first believes she is going to die, she goes wild and drinks, smokes, overeats, and neglects hygiene. Those of course, excepting the last one, perhaps, are worldly ways of dealing with problems. However, she later finds happiness and fulfillment in family and love. While these are certainly no substitute for God, they are wonderful things given by God. I really enjoyed this movie, and I like what it had to say. I guess it’s best to take this message lightly, remembering that God provides true fulfillment. The overall message, is, however, not opposed to the Christian faith, just lacking the fullness of it. Go see this movie…
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Brianna, age 15
Positive—It starts out with great graphics and then only gets better. Like real like “Life or Something Like It” has its good and its bads! There’s a little bit of cussing and other things but mostly it’s good. It is a story about a superficial (I have to say I agree with Pete about her), too-well-organized woman who has everything, or so she thinks until she gets a prediction saying, “Tomorrow it’s going to hail, and next Thursday you’re going to die”! I loved this movie and recommend it to anyone 10 (mature) and above.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Anna, age 10