There are several things I found shocking and unique about the new movie “Life Itself”. The first is the extremely low ratings of only 13% on Rotten Tomatoes for a film that does not deserve anywhere near ratings this low. The second is that the screenplay is in four acts where the first two acts are closely related and the last two initially seem to be not related and then the end connect to the first two acts – something I have never seen before. I appreciated the hard work it must have taken to write a story like this for the screenwriter and creator of TV show “This is Us”, Dan Fogelman and I also can relate to how bad he must feel now that the critics are trashing his film. The problem here is that this movie is “too much” of a tearjerker. There is too much death, too much loss and depression and downside. There are some very shocking scenes making this movie not an experience for any child under the age of 15. Aside from all of this – this movie is well acted and the story told well enough to appreciate the thought and hard work it told to create it and should have a rating more in the 60% range – not good enough, but definitely not a bad movie.
Life Itself also has several big named stars, including Annette Benning, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde and all are very good in their roles, although I did not like the smoking Annette Benning does at the start of this film or the insane narration done by Samuel L. Jackson, which seemed extremely out of place.
As far as the TV show This is Us, starting its 3rd season on September 25, 2018, Fogelman’s timeline idea is one of the most original and best concepts for a Television show of all time. Unfortunately, as always happens when a great new original idea is created, there are clones of the original idea – too many of them, that rip off the original. One of them, “Me, Myself and I”, starring SNL actor Bobby Moynihan has already failed and the new ABC Series “A Million Little things” debuts on ABC this fall – is also stealing the timeline idea. In my experience, TV shows that steal from another great idea always fail, not that this has ever prevented this phenomenon on TV from happening way too often.
The movie Life Itself is not for the faint of heart or for anyone who is depressed because it is almost overwhelming in some parts at how depressing it is. Despite all of this and the too low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, I do recommend this film, but prepare yourself for way too many depressing scenes.