The punch line to this sequence is that we learn that Kim has a baby boy in the backseat. That fateful night has resulted in Kim, Deena and Laura (Rachel Bilson) welcoming a fourth roommate, one that clearly cannot bathe, feed or clean up after himself. In her early twenties, Kim is nonetheless displeased by the fact that she’s now a mother, and her youth is forever gone. While Kim has done an admirable job keeping herself busy but sane, “L!fe Happens” asks if a young woman can be a mother and still have a manageable, semi-responsible social life.
“L!fe Happens” does seem unusually attuned to the struggles of being a young mother without the responsibilities of family. Kim’s post-birth Lamaze class notably bristles when she reveals she’s there to get in shape for dating’s sake, and the tensions that arise when her roommates' schedules remain too fluid to accommodate babysitting duties feel based in real disappointment as opposed to manufactured tension. But for every moment that rings true, there’s another listless bit of farce, like Kim’s crude, demanding boss (Kristen Johnston), an aging West Hollywood vamp in bad makeup and hair extensions who scoffs at Kim’s hopes and dreams.
Furthermore, it’s not as if the film was gutting it to the final runtime with the exploration of Deena’s own lifestyle. As an up-and-coming feminist writer, we’re treated to scenes of her networking and meeting with the likes of Lauren Conrad (a total failure at playing herself). Deena eventually gets close with Nicolas’ argyle-clad best friend played by Justin Kirk, a skeevy sketch of a character that allows her to carry on an alpha female-beta male relationship. It’s a distraction, and on its own, it’s not enough to fill the b-plot to a theatrically released movie. It’s not even enough to fill a fifteen-minute interstitial on the OWN network.
Ritter, who has seemingly trademarked the role of bitchy best friend (see ABC's "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" for a perfect example), doesn’t seem to have faith in herself as an actress, given the meandering ensemble nature of the film. It’s too bad -- she knows her way around a punchline, but can also play wounded with her doe eyes and gangly, seemingly underfed frame. She’s conventionally attractive, but also a bit gawky, which lends itself well to physical comedy, creating a stark physical contrast with her light-and-dark features paired against Bosworth’s classic cornfed blond starlet-ness. It takes the first three quarters of the film to realize we’re not meant to be rooting for Kim as much as we’re supposed to hope she mends fences with Deena when, no offense to Miss Bosworth, but Ritter’s Kim is a far more likeable character trapped in a fourth-rate sitcom of a movie. [D+]