Friends With Kids

Friends with Kids 200As with Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, I was expecting Friends With Kids to be a half-arsed excuse for the cast of Bridesmaids to reunite. But in fact, it’s a completely different film thanks to writer, director and lead actress, Jennifer Westfeldt.

Don’t be fooled by the layout of the poster, which has Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm front and centre. This is a vehicle for the two leads, Westfeldt and Adam Scott. The supporting cast of Wiig, Hamm, Maya Rudolf and Chris O’Dowd don’t appear as much as you’re probably hoping, or expecting.

As the main duo, Westfeldt and Scott share an interesting chemistry. They are playful and endearing at times, but they’re just not as convincing as Scott and Amy Poehler were on Parks and Recreation, or Scott and Elizabeth Banks in Our Idiot Brother.

Regardless, it’s about time that Scott was given the chance to shine as a central character, because he’s awesome in the underrated comedy series, Party Down.

Westfeldt on the other hand is a really weird choice (even after considering the fact that she wrote and directed it). To be honest, she was kind of hard to take seriously. Whether it’s on account of too much Botox or just a lack of facial expression, Westfeldt failed to win me over on an emotional level. She is annoying in the same way that Renee Zellweger is annoying, in that she’s irritating but you can’t really explain why.

But moving on…

The rest of the cast is fantastic. Jon Hamm does especially well to remove all sex appeal and humour, and play someone that you don’t really like. Fans of Bridesmaids shouldn’t expect the same performance from Wiig either, as she’s not in this one for the laughs.

Rudolph and O’Dowd are really the heart of this film, as the concerned but supportive best friends. I found Rudolph is less annoying than usual and O’Dowd is his usual, animated self – however, I have NO IDEA why they made him speak with an American accent. He could have remained Irish and it would have made no significant difference to the character.  The forced accent is actually distracting, because he sounds a lot like Stevie Janowski from Eastbound & Down.

The plot of Friends With Kids seems quite sub-standard from afar – after seeing the toll that having children had on their friends’ relationships, two best friends decide to have a child and raise it together. Their logic is that by remaining platonic, they can provide a positive environment for the child and keep the romance in their lives, by pursuing it with other people.

Of course, as with all romantic comedies, things don’t pan out the way they both planned and consequences ensue.

And while the worst thing about this movie is that the outcome is fairly predictable, the best thing is that the journey to get there is always surprising. This is thanks to the well-written script by Westfeldt, and her ability to focus primarily on the lead characters, but also give time to explore the many other types of relationships around them – whether friends, family or flings.

The best example of this doesn’t come until almost two-thirds of the way through, when Edward Burns and Megan Fox are introduced as the love interests for Westfeldt and Scott respectively. It lifts the premise to a whole new level, as the central characters try to balance their complicated home life with a child, and their separate dating lives.

Burns is his likeable self, as the “perfect catch” for Westfeldt’s character and Fox offers more than just a pretty face – which is probably because she’s doing more than just running from giant robots in slow motion.

The only advice I can offer before going to see this film is: don’t go in expecting Bridesmaids 2. You won’t be disappointed but you won’t be getting your money’s worth in laughs either.

Friends With Kids is worth watching, just because it’s not your typical romantic comedy. It’s deep at times but it also shows as much of the ‘bad stuff’ relationships have to offer as it does ‘the good’.

Rating: B+