Friends with Kids *****

Friends with Kids is a refreshingly grown up comedy written, directed and starring the very talented Jennifer Westfeldt.

Westfedt plays Julie, a thirty-something New York woman, who wants to have children without all the relationship baggage that comes with it. Adam Scott plays her best friend Jason, who is immature when it comes to romance, but nonetheless wants to become a father. Both  have observed their married friends have children, and their love lives subsequently fizzle out into nothingness, as nappies, toys and arguments over nothing take over: so they decide to have a child together, no strings attached.

The set up is inspired, as Westfeldt explores three very different parental relationships, and highlights the fact that there is no ‘normal’ way to raise a child. Other domestic situations are touched upon too, as at one point Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O’Dowd)’s son asks his parents why his friend has two mothers. Despite their friends’ fears, Julie and Jason succeed in raising a wonderful son (Joe) whilst dating other people, and therefore prove their theory can work – until feelings get involved.

Although it is inevitable that feelings will be a problem, that is the beauty of this film: its honesty and realism. It is a comedy for a new era, and a new audience, and Westfeldt manages to create something funny, poignant and stimulating for the viewer; almost an entirely new sub-genre of comedy.

There is brilliant chemistry between all of the couples, and Scott and Westfeldt really manage to portray their incredible friendship and struggling feelings for each other with honesty. The love between them as friends is felt throughout the film, as they bounce off each other at comic moments, and share scenes such as the early phone conversation whilst both in bed with their respective one night stands, with an intimacy only possible between friends.

The other couples are all fabulous, with O’Dowd and Rudolph excellently portraying the trials of maintaining romance after children (cue petty arguments, dirty diapers and sex only once a month). Although O’Dowd’s accent is at times questionable, his relationship with Rudolph is again very honest and real, without the unnatural Hollywood glamour that usually comes with romantic comedies. The pair reunite after their triumph together of Bridesmaids last year, and once again deliver great comic performances.

Westfeldt’s real-life husband Jon Hamm plays whiskey-drinking Ben, married to Missy (Kristen Wiig). Their relationship deteriorates from undiluted lust, to hatred of one another two kids down the line, and represents exactly what Jason and Julie sought not to achieve. I would argue that there isn’t enough of Hamm and Wiig in this movie, as their relationship earlier in the film and their views of Jason and Julie’s plans are hilarious, yet the film as a whole is incredibly well-balanced, and allows sufficient time to explore the pros and cons of each couples relationship methods.

The wider supporting cast are well-sourced, with Edward Burns as Kurt, Julie’s dream boyfriend, ticking all of the boxes she hoped for when planning her pregnancy, yet failing to meet one essential criteria: love. Jason’s fling on the other hand, is Megan Fox, who plays Broadway star Mary Jane, and suits her role as the petulant, immature source of his romantic turnaround, as he realises there is more to women than looks.

The ending of Friends With Kids is perfectly pitched, and unlike many inferior comedies, lacks the sickly-sweet after taste. Westfeldt manages to create a comedy with some laugh out loud funny moments, as well as witty, intelligent and probing humour. This movie not only delivers laughs, but also provokes thought and discussion, and does so with grace, ease and style.

About teafortwotalk

Freelance writer @Pickwickmag @Corridor8 @Biennial / Editor @artinliverpool. Available for writing and copyediting.
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