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Life or Something Like It

Angelina Jolie has proven herself as one of the most engaging and controversial figures in modern American cinema. Haven solidified herself as a dramatic actress, she’s trying her hand at romantic comedy… or something like it.

Life or Something Like It stars Angelina Jolie as Lanie Kerigan, television reporter, and all around perfect girl. But on the eve of her greatest success, a local savant (the always fun Tony Shalhoub) predicts her death, leading her to question the choices she’s made and the path she’s on. Those questions lead her into the arms of her cameraman and greatest nemesis, played by Edward Burns.

There’s nothing new about Angelina’s latest. The only novelty here is Jolie’s attempt to play against type, and branch out into the mysterious Meg Ryan riddled world of romantic comedy. Still, despite treading on fairly familiar romantic formalities, Life or Something Like It at least produces a slick bit of smart, sharply written dialogue between two basically interesting characters.

On one hand, Jolie’s almost ridiculously blonde Kerigan, uptight and secure, yet rattled by a crazy savant’s wild predictions. On the other, Burn’s almost unbelievably laid back slacker, taking life one day at a time and handling the world with humor and charm. The two clash together in a mildly amusing manner amidst the dreary landscape of Seattle… which strangely resembles New York, complete with panhandling crazies and outlandish cabbies.

It’s fun to watch, though I’m not entirely sure Life or Something Like It is actually all that funny. It wants to be a comedy, but ends up being mostly quirky in a smirk-happy, smugly romantic way. Jolie plays intense characters, that’s who she is; and even for a role as light as this, it seems difficult for her to put that fiery intensity away, even for one picture. I’m not sure that’s a fault, really it’s a strength… but it doesn’t do much here to make her all that funny.

Burns at least has a capable sense of comic timing, which plays nicely against Jolie’s intensity, at least enough to keep the film from becoming too ragingly serious. But even though the dialogue is sharp and witty, Life or Something Like It is much more a romance than a comedy… weirdly disjoined ending and all.

In the end, it’s just another harmless film, unlikely to send audiences screaming for ticket refunds, and unlikely to win a place close to the hearts of the American moviegoer. Just a bit of light entertainment, why bother to complain?