I went to see Friends With Kids a week ago after dinner with my parents because my mother felt like seeing “something light” after doing schoolwork all day. I lioned an antipasto and the better part of a sausage, olive, mushroom pizza and so something light was probably the only thing I could have stomached.
Aside: “Something light” as defined by my mother = rom-com. ”Lioned” as defined by my friend Steve = my primal consumption by volume of food when hungry.
The only thing that I had heard about the movie prior was that Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Maya Rudolph (SNL, Bridesmaids) and Jon Hamm (Mad Men) were part of the cast. All good things. I didn’t see the trailer…
The movie’s premise (if you didn’t watch the trailer above which, as bad trailers do, goes beyond engaging snippets and tells the whole damn story): two platonic friends decide that they’ll have a child together (taking 50/50 responsibility of said child) so that they can continue to date, looking for Mr./Mrs. Right and not incur the pain and suffering that they witness in their other friends’ romantic relationships (who are conveniently in two couples) when their respective children become part of their lives. The platonic friends are played by Adam Scott and writer/director/actress Jennifer Westfeldt.
Above: Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt deciding whether or not they can take each other seriously sexually.
Friends With Kids is watchable and entertaining to a degree. The dialogue is funny, but it leaves the viewer feeling like the script was built around a handful of witty and gritty tête-à-tête. The acting is okay. I was surprised to see that Adam Scott has a bit of a range, though I think he was miscast as a heartbreaker (for lack of a better term for one who can regularly attract hotties and then cast them away at will). Westfeldt at her best had a self-deprecating, female Woody Allen air about her, but could easily slip into the realm of irksome. Their friends in Leslie & Alex (Maya Rudolph & Chris O’Dowd) and Missy & Ben (Kristen Wiig & Jon Hamm) acted pretty obviously as the functional (though tried) and dysfunctional relationship foils. Rudolph & O’Dowd offered some of the funniest scenes in the film. Jon Hamm offered a scotch-fueled tirade (familiar to those fans of Mad Men, except strange without Peggy there for berating). Oh, and I still think Megan Fox is useless.
The pacing of the flick really could have used some editing. The first three quarters of the movie are comprised of Act I: the idea and Act II: the kid. The last twenty minutes of the movie (give or take) are dedicated to Act III: reintroducing characters, deep-sixing others, tying up loose plot points in casual conversation and forcing a palatable resolution. If you haven’t figured it out, watch the trailer again.
Though Jennifer Westfeldt impressed me without the amount of hats she wore for this film (writer/director/actress) and I won’t pre-suppose her future productions to be merit-less chick flicks, I wouldn’t rush out to the theater to see this one. Wait for Netflix, grab a blanket (or Snuggies if that’s the way you choose to live your life), a bottle of wine and revel in the fact that you don’t have kids (if you don’t). If you do, make sure they’re asleep.
Rating: *** (out of 5)
Aside: I did not expect some of the explicit sexual humor. I can tolerate it just fine, but I cannot tell you how awkward it was hearing “please let me fuck the shit out of you” on screen while sitting next to my mother. Certainly not the “something light” that she was hoping for. Point being: see the movie with your significant other if and when he/she is not a prude. Do not go with your parents…or your children.