Film Review


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L!fe Happens

Barebacking leads to pregnancy in Kat Coiro’s L!fe Happens. [Photo: PMK*BNC Films]

L!fe Happens .5 out of 4

star0-5

That Lauren Conrad makes a cameo in L!fe Happens in a way that establishes her as the materialization of successful womanhood, the heroine of the film's target demographic, should be enough to dissuade you from watching this tale of heterosexual barebacking, punishment, and redemption—but here we go.

Kim (Krysten Ritter) and Deena (Kate Bosworth) are BFF roommates having sex with random guys at the same time in their respective rooms. Aren't they strong independent women? They say yes to sex, unapologetically. When it becomes time to wrap it up, however, they realize there's only one condom left from their stash. Deena claims first dibs, so Kim is "forced" to have unprotected sex with her Australian trick. This is a mistake she'll pay for dearly, but not without the help of Deena, who'll share babysitting duties once a child is born and ruins the girls' dating lives.

Set in the stereotypical world of L.A. where life's anxieties revolve around whether or not one is "on the list," L!fe Happens wants us to believe its message is one of female independence and empowerment, which it seems to equate to a woman's willingness to pay any price for her horniness—including pretending her child is actually her roommate's. They juggle their careers—one is a writer, the other a dog-walker—with their hookup needs. They aren't embarrassed of their libido, perhaps because, and only because, the ultimate goal is to settle down monogamously.

In the film, female sexuality isn't embedded into everyday life as a fundamental element of Southern California existence, but as a cartoonish spectacle that paints the characters as clumsy, desperate, Prince Charming-seeking bimbos who gawk at any shirtless passerby and are faced with the horrible decision of attending an "industry party" on Sunset, a fashion show downtown, or an art opening on La Cienega. Never for the industry, or the fashion, or the art, but for the husband-material opportunities. The fact that L!fe Happens is billed as a comedy and its humor relies on PG-fluids—such as having Kim lactate during sex and having a guy find baby vomit on her shoulder—is also very telling of the good-girl ideology supporting the horny-girl attitude, and the film's timidity to ever go for the jugular. Be sassy, but still a lady.

Director(s): Kat Coiro Screenwriter(s): Krysten Ritter, Kat Coiro Cast: Krysten Ritter, Kate Bosworth, Rachel Bilson, Geoff Stults, Justin Kirk, Kristen Johnson Distributor: PMK*BNC Films Runtime: 100 min Rating: NR Year: 2011

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