Life or Something Like It
Directed by Stephen Herek
Written by John Scott Shepherd
Starring Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns


Life or Something Like It

Is it just me, or are Angelina Jolie's lips getting even puffier? This is an important question since most of "Life or Else," which is probably a better title than the current one, consists mostly of extreme closeups of her face, with those lips quivering like slightly overripe raspberries.

The story is simple, or perhaps simpleminded would be a better word. Jolie is Lanie Kerigan, a Seattle television feature reporter you might describe as the (early) Baba Wawa of the Northwest. She's engaged to a Seattle Mariners star, she's being considered for a spot on a 'Good Morning America'-type network show in New York, and what could be better in her life? Nothing, until she does a feature on Prophet Jack (Tony Shalhoub), a homeless street man with what appears to be the gift of prophecy. When she holds the mike up to him he prophesizes that she will die next week.

Well. You can imagine the shock, and how she feels, particularly since she thinks ex-one-night-stand cameraman Pete (Edward Burns) put Jack up to it as a joke. So we spend an interminable week with Lanie, as she goes through at least the first three stages of Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief, which also means that she gives up her fiancÚ, she falls in love with Pete - oh, you hadn't guessed? - and is chosen for the New York gig, all at the same time.

Is this a real film or just an hour and forty-five minutes of cheesy schlock? There are only two valid performances here: the first is by Burns, who doesn't try to overplay his quiet New York manner; the second, and it is a brilliant piece of acting, is a cameo by Stockard Channing, as Deborah Connors, a world-famous journalist interviewed in New York by Lanie. In just three or four minutes of screen time she goes from bitch to human being as we watch; probably as difficult a transition to make believable as exists in film. For the rest, we do have those lips to stare at.