Friends with Kids Directed by: Jennifer Westfeldt Cast: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: R Release Date: March 9, 2012
PLOT: Two best friends (Westfeldt and Scott) decide to have a child together, without getting romantically involved. Their friends believe this can't end well.
WHO'S IT FOR? Adults who are right around that age of thinking about having kids, or already have a couple of little ones. Plus, it will help if you like real-life comedy (instead of the wacky variety).
EXPECTATIONS: I knew Scott was in the film. Otherwise I knew nothing. With "Party Down" and "Parks and Recreation" under this belt, I definitely want more Scott.
ACTORS: Adam Scott as Jason Fryman: Jason likes the ladies, but more importantly he likes his freedom. Just like Seinfeld, Jason finds tiny things wrong with the women he dates, and that ends it. He's a great friend, and one his buddies live vicariously through. Once he and Julie decide to have a baby together, it's good to see the effort Jason puts forth. It would have been easy (and lazy) for the father to try to get out on some responsibilities. That's not the case here. Score: 9
Jennifer Westfeldt as Julie Keller: Westfeldt is our director, writer and also did the film Kissing Jessica Stein. I thought that film was just OK, and part of that was her performance. I had no such problem with Julie. Her motivations as a parent, friend and partner feel real, like she can't control it at times. Plus, how often does a woman get to strut and have a "happy sex walk" in a movie? That's always the guy (ala 500 Days of Summer). Well done Westfeldt. Score: 8
Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd as Leslie and Alex: This is the couple that is totally exhausted from parenting, and freely fight/argue in front of their friends. We all know this couple, love this couple, and most importantly believe in their love for each other. I love Leslie and Alex and if they ever get their own film, I'll happily watch. It's great to see these two steal scenes away from the other actors. Score: 10
Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm as Missy and Ben: When these two fight, you don't really want to be in the same room. It's raw. So is their sexual appetite in the beginning of the film. I could have used more of both of them, but only when they're funny. Otherwise it's a little too sad (in an effective way). Score: 7
Megan Fox and Edward Burns as Maryjane and Kurt: Jason likes Maryjane. Julie likes Kurt. It's easy to see why in both cases. Fox doesn't derail this film, which almost feels necessary to say with her career at this point. Burns is perfect. Seriously, he played a near-perfect man. There's a lot of good comedy that comes from that, especially when Julie tries to play a game asking Kurt how he would want to die. Other films would showcase how Kurt isn't imaginative, but here we get to see Kurt's respect and love for Julie. It's just one great tiny moment in this film. Score: 8
TALKING: When Jason and Julie strike up the idea to have a kid together, they follow that up with a quality conversation. Sure, they assume they'll always love each other (like friends) but everything else does actually feel like they talk it out. The comedy is at its best when the whole gang is together. Score: 9
SIGHTS: This is how you do a baby pooping gag. Are you listening The Change-Up? The look of worn out parenting is written on Rudolph's face every time we see it. New York City has a nice roll in this film as well. Score: 7
SOUNDS: Regina Spektor, Jenny Lewis, The 88 and other artists that you would expect 30-year-olds to like are scattered throughout the film. I'm totally fine with it. It's my kind of music. There's also some oldies, with Willie Nelson, James Brown and Lyle Lovett. It all works, but never feels amazing. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: It comes at the perfect time. The whole gang gets together for the ski trip. I was missing Rudloph, O'Dowd, Wiig and Haam. The comedy and drama created from this scene is fantastic.
ENDING: Jason and Julie play a "this or that" type game together, and it's brought back perfectly at the end of the film.
QUESTIONS: Why not explain a little more the strategic elements of friends having babies? Isn't parenting difficult even when you love your partner? Why not explain a little more why Julie and Jason never hooked up?
REWATCHABILITY: Yes. I will want to see this film with my wife, and probably won't wait until Blu-ray.
It's funny because it's true. That is an over-used sarcastic comedy phrase, but with Friends with Kids it feels like it applies. Watching people struggle with parenting makes me cringe. Yes, I still sit at the top of my kid-less pedestal. There are plenty of cringe-worthy moments that make you realize how difficult parenting can be. The reason they aren't painful is because this is an amazing ensemble cast that keeps some emotional weight, but definitely brings the laughter.
You believe in the friendship between Jason and Julie. I think they could have done a slightly better job of explaining why these two life-long friends never hooked up, but it's definitely not enough to derail the enjoyment of their companionship.
"Why don't we just do it?" That sentence is the cause of many movie leaps, so why not friends having babies? Once they re-enter the dating scene, or more importantly try to find a partner, things definitely get muddled. A stay at a ski lodge helps complicate things, but also gives us the perspective that it's not just fun and games with these couples.
Friends With Kids is the adult drama-comedy that all couples should make a part of their date night.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10