Friends With Kids
DIRECTOR: Jennifer Westfeldt
CAST: Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
CLASSIFICATION: 16 LS
First comes friendship, then comes baby… wait, that’s not how it goes.
But that’s exactly how it plays out in the Westfeldt-directed rom-com. The idea is a novel one, have an open mind.
There’s this guy, Ben (Hamm), who is a serious catch, and this woman, Julie (Westfeldt), who everyone feels the need to remind she is old, seriously. They are a part of an inner circle of friends that includes two married couples: Alex (O’Dowd) and Leslie (Rudolph) as well as Jason (Scott) and Missy (Wiig). All of them are in their thirties, but somehow, everyone figures Julie’s biological clock is ticking way faster than Ben’s.
Once their married friends have kids, their circle begins to resemble a maze where parents are stuck in a rut, chasing after screaming babies, or unable to find their way back to birthday dinners with their single friends.
Are you still with me? Good.
After realising their married friends lost their spark when they gained new family members, Julie and Ben decide that it must be impossible to have a child and stay happily married to anyone. So why not have a child with someone you love but aren’t in love with so you can split your time between being a baby-momma or baby-daddy and cultivating a relationship with a significant other? That way, you get the best of both worlds. Weekend visits with the little one and weekday loving with Megan Fox (no, really, she’s in there). Score.
Everyone warns Ben and Julie that this arrangement won’t work, but they counter that there’s Jon and Kate Plus 8, so why can’t this arrangement work? Yeah, okay. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the film, written, produced, starring and directed by Westfeldt, would be super-indulgent to her cause. Never mind that she and Hamm are together in real life, this film is a cute romantic comedy, but if it’s meant to be taken seriously at all then I have to concede that some of the storyline is absolutely ridiculous. Like the idea that it’s possible for Ben to live a no-strings-attached life with Julie, but she is an absolute wreck who ditches the best man ever to come into her life because she thinks she may be in love with her baby-daddy. Work?
That about-turn was so incredibly predictable. The other thing that caught my eye is how the interactions between the friends are straight out of the Tyler Perry school of film-making. Right down to the confrontation at the dinner table on a major holiday (New Year’s Eve). That is any one of the Why Did I Get Married? movies just with an all-white cast and no wine bottles getting acquainted with a loudmouth’s head. So the next time you think of criticising Mr Madea, remember his is a formula that works, people.
This film takes too long to establish that the friends are going to decide on having a kid together and even more time showing us Rudolph’s bubble gut. If they wanted to make the SNL-er unattractive to the masses, they’ve succeeded. The supporting cast, especially the intense Scott and Wiig, do a great job of bringing a sense of reality to the weird situation and it’s in those moments that you’re only slightly tempted to take them seriously.
If you liked … Why Did I Get Married? or When Harry Met Sally … you may chuckle at this.