Lanie Kerrigan (Angelina Jolie) has felt like she's had to prove herself most of her life. But as a successful reporter for a Seattle television station with a baseball superstar for a boyfriend Lanie believes she has finally made it. To top it off she also gets her dream job at a big network. Yep life is just about perfect--until she interviews a homeless street seer named Prophet Jack (Tony Shalhoub) who tells Lanie her life has meant nothing at all and that she has seven days to live. Those are some tough words. She brushes the whole incident off but when Prophet Jack's other predictions come true she starts to worry--big time. Suddenly Lanie sees her perfect life as being awfully shallow and decides to fill it with more important things like the rekindling of her romance with cameraman Pete (Edward Burns) with whom she has had a long-standing love/hate relationship. Can she re-examine her life and make it better in time to somehow save herself from her "fate?"
Jolie changes her persona onscreen as many times as she changes her hairdo. This time she's going for comedy donning a very big very blonde wig and flashing a perky "perfect girl" attitude. Although she handles her role as Lanie well showing how one with a "fat little girl" mentality can blossom into a successful woman comedy just isn't Jolie's forte. She seems somewhat uncomfortable playing the vulnerable lass who realizes she loves Pete after all. She's much better at playing the man-eating sexpot who exudes confidence. Nevertheless the girl can act--that's very clear. Her true talent is evident when she is digging deep to examine her life especially in scenes with her acerbic sister (Lisa Thornhill) and kindly father (James Gammon). Burns plays the same smarmy adorable rogue he does so well (She's The One Sidewalks of New York) but his romantic chemistry with Jolie falters. You don't really root for them to stay together (unless she were to break out the whips and chains…). Shalhoub as always is quite good as Prophet Jack hysterical yet poignant at the same time. Stockard Channing also does a nice turn as a Barbara Walters-type journalist who gets the tables turned on her when she's interviewed by Lanie.
Life is a romantic comedy that luckily doesn't necessarily rely on the "comedy " which in this case is a good thing. Posing the question--what would you do if you thought you had only a week to live?--the film carves out a fairly interesting story about a woman forced to see that her life isn't quite so put-together. Director Stephen Herek (Mr. Holland's Opus 101 Dalmatians) weaves the sap quotient with the seriousness of the situation well. Unfortunately it's Life's comedic elements that keep it from being a really good movie. The moments simply fall flat mainly because it is such foreign territory for our leading actress--and the fact there are few sparks between her and her leading man. Those are big problems in a supposed romantic comedy. Overall though the film succeeds in its meaningful message.