Like a gift-wrapped tennis racquet, director Stephen Herek's Life or Something Like It reveals most of its secrets with the packaging. The contrived tagline of "Destiny Is What You Make Of It" screams "Feel Good Movie," and sure enough a brief tour of Herek's resume uncovers dreamers (Mr. Holland's Opus), overachievers (Rock Star) and time-traveling prophets bearing the benevolent message, "Be excellent to each other" (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure).

But I like Herek - a sort of populist Cameron Crowe - because he specializes in dreams and dreamers, yet still understands enough about pacing and characterization to prevent his films from drifting off into the stratosphere before they reach their natural conclusion. He may be light, fluffy and conventional, but his films contain an unforeseen element of stability and (as a result) respectability.

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