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Friday, April 26, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Into this pert and predictable 'Life,' a little rain should have fallen

Seattle Times movie critic

"Life Or Something Like It"


**
With Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns, Tony Shalhoub, Melissa Errico, Stockard Channing. Directed by Stephen Herek, from a screenplay by John Scott Shepherd and Dana Stevens. 99 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief violence and language. Several theaters.

In Stephen Herek's tepid dramedy "Life or Something Like It," Angelina Jolie sports an enormous headful of platinum-blond hair, whipped up around her pert face like cotton candy. To go with the Marilyn Monroe 'do, she wears skin-tight, cleavage-emphasizing suits and stiletto heels. All this hyper-styling has an unfortunate effect: While her performance is quite good — blending her trademark directness with the voice of a breathy starlet — her appearance is an insurmountable hurdle. She looks just too goofy to be real, and this earnest movie is anything but goofy.

Jolie plays Lainie Kerrigan, a features reporter at a Seattle television station. (Did the producers think platinum bouffants are all the rage in the Pacific Northwest? And have they ever tried to navigate the Pike Place Market hillclimb in stilettos?)

All's swell in Lainie's life, with a handsome Mariner pitcher for a boyfriend, an impressive career that looks to be heading for a network position, and a mod apartment that resembles a W Hotel suite. And then, right out of a clear blue sky (this Seattle is suspiciously rainless), a homeless street philosopher tells Lainie that she has only a week to live.

Like "Rock Star," Herek's similarly well-meaning last film, "Life Or Something Like It" extols the virtues of a balanced life. Stardom, we are told, comes with a price.

The usually impeccable Stockard Channing, playing a Barbara Walters-like network star named Deborah Connors, has to get all gooey and tearful when reminded that she once left behind a man she loved. "Was it worth everything you gave up?" the wide-eyed Lainie asks her, and it's clear what the movie wants us to think. (I half-expected Lainie to begin counseling Deborah on late-life fertility options.)

Anyway, "Life" focuses on Lainie's so-called last week among the living, as she goes about mending fences with her cranky sister and remote father, realizing that she really loves the scratchy-voiced cameraman at work (Ed Burns) rather than the clueless ballplayer, and letting her hair get ever-so-slightly less poufy. Jolie's likable enough to make even a lengthy singalong rendition of "Satisfaction" almost work, but there's not much chemistry with Burns (who, as usual, seems to be acting all by himself), and the whole exercise feels predictable and programmed.

Local audiences, though, will get a kick out of the settings. Shot partly on location in Seattle last spring (as well as New York and Vancouver, B.C.), the film depicts the Emerald City as a bustling, sunny metropolis.

The filmmakers used the KOMO-TV studios in Seattle as sets — altering the logo to "KQMO-TV" — and many familiar KOMO faces appear on screen, among them Dan Lewis, Margo Myers and Steve Pool. Nice to see them all, as well as the ever-photogenic Safeco Field — but hey, what's this "Capitol Hill Zoo" Lainie talks about?

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

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