The Struggle of New Motherhood in ‘Life Happens’

Life Happens DVDI’m going to let you in on a secret.  I love Krysten Ritter.  She’s like a lesser known version of Zooey Deschanel.  She sings, she acts, she’s quirky, she’s funny.  She just seems like a great person.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to be getting the screen time she deserves.  She’s been cast as the somewhat straight-laced, somewhat quirky best friend of a blonde protagonist in several movies over the years.  When she was cast as the lead in a sitcom (Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23it was canceled after one season.  Finding out she was cast as the lead for Life Happens made me happy.

Ritter portrays Kim, a wild child party girl who lives with her friends, Deena (Kate Bosworth) and Laura (Rachel Bilson) in LA.  Both Kim and Deena bring men home on the same night to have one night stands.  Both in need of condoms, Deena insists that she needs it because she’s ovulating.  Flash forward one year and we see that Kim is now the mother of a baby boy named Max.

She’s having a hard time adjusting to life as a mother.  Still single, Kim wants men to take interest in her, but is struggling because of Max.  When Max’s father, Marc, decided to leave town, Kim is forced to take care of him on her own.  She has a tough time persuading her roommates to babysit, as Deena is very much focused on her career as a writer, and Laura bounces back and forth between odd jobs to make rent.  Kim’s boss, Francesca (Kristen Johnston), loathes kids and threatens to fire her if she shows up to work with Max.  We see Kim struggling with day-to-day activities and take care of Max without a father around.

In addition to that, she isn’t getting where she wants to be in life.  Ever since she was a child, Kim has had a dream to open up a “doggie mall,” a normal size mall that contains all stores catering to dogs.  She’s been working as an assistant to Francesca, who owns a dog walking business, in hopes that one day Francesca will invest in her idea.  She’s clearly very unhappy, as Francesca is very rude and a horrible boss in general.


Also, having Max has put a strain on Kim’s relationship with her roommates, especially Deena.  She doesn’t understand what Kim is going through, although she acts as if she does.  Deena likes to push the idea that woman can “have it all.”  That they can have children and a career, and that they don’t need a man to help.  However, it becomes apparent that Deena might not know what she’s talking about considering she doesn’t have a kid of her own.  Kim grows increasingly frustrated with her throughout the film.  When she’s able to find a fellow mom friend, she’s relieved to have someone who can relate to and help her, but Deena isn’t too fond of the idea.

Kim also meets a Nicholas (Geoff Stults) at a party and lies about having a kid.  She eventually tells him that Deena has a baby.  The two start heading into a relationship and Kim struggles with herself to do the right thing and tell him the truth.

In the end, Kim is able to realize that maybe she doesn’t have to “have it all” as Deena likes to tell her.  She finds comfort in being a mom and hanging out with other mothers.  She’s able to see what’s truly important to her.

Well, you already know I’m a fan of Ritter.  She does a fine job here.  Her role isn’t overly complex or anything, but playing a new and confused mother might have its challenges.

I do like the concept of this movie.  I think it’s a good idea.  I think any new parents are going to have a hard time, let alone a single parent living with her best friends from college and trying to pursue her dreams.  I suppose the film does focus an awful lot on Kim and her son, but I don’t feel like it focused enough on the relationship between them.  We don’t necessarily get to see how she’s changed after having him, especially since we only see her for about a minute before the film time jumps to a year later when she has him.


The dating aspect really kind of takes the backseat here.  It doesn’t add a whole lot to the plot.  Kim’s relationship with Nicholas seems forced and almost unnecessary.  Kim’s strained friendship with Deena is far more interesting, but it isn’t explored as much as it could be.

When it comes down to it, the concept is good, but it isn’t executed as well as it can be.  Ritter is a great actress and I’m aware that she helped pen this movie, but she isn’t used to her full potential here either.  It’s a nice flick to watch once.  It isn’t horrible, but it’s not great.


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