Old 03-08-2012, 10:05 PM
Jennifer Westfeldt's Friends with Kids

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Friends with Kids (2012)

“Friends with Kids” adds a new level of frustration to the same old romantic-comedy formula that we’ve seen thousands of times before. Usually that frustration merely stems from the fact that you have to wait for the couple, whether they’re first meeting or have been longtime friends, to finally figure out that they love each other and want to be together. The couple in this film not only does that, but they are also completely thoughtless about their actions before getting to that point.

The couple, Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt), have been friends for ages but have never felt any attraction for each other. They’ve spent their years telling each other everything about their attempts to start a love life and spending time with the same four mutual friends, two couples who have wondered why they’ve never gotten together. Because they both want a kid, Jason and Julie come up with a plan where they will have one together, but not get married, with the idea being not to subject the child to a nasty divorce and all the pain that would bring to the three of them.

They have the baby and proceed to date other people. Jason meets Mary Jane (Megan Fox), an actress, while Julie starts seeing Kurt (Edward Burns). Everything seems to be going well for both of them as they are both very happy. However, complications begin to arise when they start to feel that there might be more to their relationship than they originally thought.

This film contains one of the most irresponsible couples ever featured in a romantic-comedy. Who in their right mind would ever conceive of such a bizarre experiment, let alone carry it out? Sure it’s merely the writer’s (Westfeldt) attempt at comedy, but it never comes off as funny because this couple is purposefully bringing a child into a loveless marriage and an already broken home, which is ironic given that their original plan was to avoid the unpleasantness of a divorce.

Their friends seem to think that this is a very bad idea, but apparently they don’t try very hard to talk them out of it. Later in the film, one of them even tells Jason straight to his face that they didn’t think their idea out very far, and indeed, they did not. You would think that, when dealing with the life of a baby, there would be considerable planning that goes into it, but the furthest that these two get is agreeing to split expenses down the middle. Obviously there would be several complications that would arise from such a disastrous experiment, and yet, they somehow never stop to think about it.

Aside from the premise being completely flawed and unbelievable, it follows the standard formula pretty much beat for beat. You have the couple that has been friends for ages, but has never gotten together, so knowing what genre you’re watching, you already know that these two are going to be together by the end of the film. However, Westfeldt decides to drag the film out to an unbearable length, not only with a bad story, but with a third act that is terribly written.

As mention earlier, the standard couple of a romantic-comedy usually just takes a little while to figure out that they love each other, or in some cases has to overcome a misunderstanding or doubt before they get together. Here, the realization is staggered so that she realizes she loves him, but he still doesn’t realize his feelings for her, and then he realizes he loves her, but she has tried to move on. This brings not only the doubt, but extreme irritation when it tries to make us believe that she’s going to reject him when he tells her he loves her after having told him not long before that she loves him.

If you’ve found any of this to be spoilerish, then you’ve obviously never seen a rom-com before. Usually they will just stick to the formula in a pain-free sort of fashion. It doesn’t make them good, in fact, it makes most of them a bit of a slog to sit through. “Friends with Kids” takes this formula and somehow finds a way to make it worse, which is a very difficult thing to do. Movies of this genre normally want you to root for the couple to end up together. All this one had me doing was hoping that someone would smack them upside the head and talk some sense into them. 1.5/4 stars.

Last edited by Hal2001; 03-11-2012 at 03:02 PM..
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Old 03-11-2012, 02:20 PM
My Gawd, this sounds terrible.
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