Friends with Kids hits close to home
Starring Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott. Rated 14A.
Extend the “benefits” to include children, and you have the basic concept of Friends With Kids, an initially formulaic comedy that midwifes an alarming number of home truths. The film stars Jennifer Westfeldt (who also wrote and directed) and Adam Scott as Julie and Jason, lifelong pals who decide to clean their biological clocks by popping one out while seeking superior partners.
Julie and Jason live in the same Manhattan building and have a circle of child-addled friends who get the best lines. Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd play one couple suffering through postpartum everything, and another consists of Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm (Westfeldt’s real-life significant other).
When our best buds go directly to baby-makin’ without any of the usual arrangements—like living together, prenups, or kissing—things work out well enough to shock their pals. But this casual arrangement is tested when each finds a new mate who actually has something to offer: for Jason, Megan Fox, surprisingly adept as a dancer who enjoys her freedom; and for Julie, Edward Burns as a sensitive he-man who’s just too good at everything.
This is the directorial debut for Westfeldt, still best known as the star and cowriter of Kissing Jessica Stein, a similarly structured comedy of romantic misadventure. With that nasal whine and permanent squint, her presence isn’t exactly winning. As a writer and filmmaker, she also edges toward the discomfiting, mostly to intriguing effect.
The indifferently shot movie’s wrap-up feels forced, however, and the Apatow-like swearing grates. Considering how easily bugged they are by other people’s noisy brats, you’d think our arrested adolescents might potty train their own mouths. But subway cars, fancy restaurants, and even children’s bedrooms are all fair game for loud talk about blow jobs and jacking off. The ending disappoints, in part because there’s zero indication that finding true love, even at home, will help anyone grow up.
Watch the trailer for Friends With Kids.