Friends With Kids

Cast:
Adam Scott as Jason Fryman
Jennifer Westfeldt as Julie Keller
Jon Hamm as Ben
Kristen Wiig as Missy
Maya Rudolph as Leslie
Chris O’Dowd as Alex
Megan Fox as Mary Jane
Edward Burns as Kurt
Bryant as Elaine Keller
Kelly Bishop as Marcy Fryman
Cotter Smith as Phil Fryman

Directed by Jennifer Westfeldt

Story:
Jason and Julie (Adam Scott, Westfeldt) have been best friends for much of their lives and they’ve remained single, going through the dating life while the friends around them get married. After their married friends announce their respective pregnancies over dinner, we cut to four years later when the same couples are miserable, so Jason and Julie come up with the idea that the best way to have a kid is with someone you’re not married to and they make a pact to do just that.

Analysis:

(This review is slightly reworked from our review done at the Toronto Film Festival.)

Ten years after having an indie hit with her script and starring role in “Kissing Jessica Stein,” Jennifer Westfeldt makes her directorial debut with an incredibly relatable movie, whether you have kids or not, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that her partner and co-producer helped her pull together a good chunk of her cast from one of last summer’s biggest hit comedies “Bridesmaids” either.

For the most part, “Friends With Kids” is a lighter, fluffier and more female-friendly version of a Judd Apatow comedy that doesn’t necessarily tone down the raunch to protect women’s “delicate sensibilities.” No, this deals honestly with inter-gender friendships, relationships and raising kids via a mish-mash of comedy genders that creates a lot of potential for situational humor.

The biggest reason the movie works so well is Westfeldt herself, as she’s constantly warm and likeable as a leading lady, far more than some of the more prominent actresses doing studio rom-coms. The same can be said for Adam Scott as a leading man, and it’s not even remotely surprising they work together as well as they do, playing friends who can talk to each other about anything, whether it’s dating or their private parts. Jason is there for Julie, not only to get her pregnant in a funny but awkward bedroom scene, but also to help her through the pregnancy and take care of their resulting son Joe 50% of the time.

Westfeldt has assembled quite an incredible cast of talented actors around herself and Scott, her real-life partner Jon Hamm once again being paired with Kristen Wiig, only this time they’re married with Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd playing the other couple. Although the relationships are switched around, all four actors are just as funny as they were in “Bridesmaids,” though in this case, O’Dowd really stands out as the husband who can do nothing right for his wife. Hamm ends up coming off like the weakest link even with Wiig playing down her part in the humor for this one. As good as Scott and Westfeldt work together, the movie is a lot more fun when they’re with these friends, but that’s really only at the very beginning and briefly towards the end.

As the film goes along, it starts to veer further into traditional romantic comedy territory as well as getting more dramatic. Eventually, Julie gets back out into the dating pool and meets the too-good-to-be-true Kurt (Edward Burns) and they start a serious relationship, while Jason meets an incredibly attractive dancer (Megan Fox) while walking Joe through Central Park. The problem is that Jason and Julie are still close due to their shared care of Joe and as one might expect, this arrangement is doomed to failure, as it eventually creates a wedge between Jason and Julie. While it’s somewhat predictable where things may end up, the last act proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Adam Scott is just as strong a dramatic actor as he is when being funny.

The Bottom Line:
“Friends With Kids” is an incredibly accessible and marketable movie, which is by no means a bad thing, because Jennifer Westfeldt once again proves she has a way of examining aspects of everyday life that can be appreciated even by those who’ve never in that situation.

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