Review: Friends With Kids
PLOT: Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) are life-long friends, who've never entertained the notion of sleeping together. When their best friends, couples Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O'Dowd), and Ben (Jon Hamm) and Missy (Kristen Wiig) start having kids, the two decide to have a baby of their own, minus all the romantic attachments that seem to be killing the romance in their friends' lives. After having their child, both move on to new romantic partners (Megan Fox & Edward Burns), but discover that having a child together has changed their relationship in a way that makes it harder to resume their platonic relationship.
REVIEWS: FRIENDS WITH KIDS is one of the many films I've seen at TIFF this year that could potentially be a real sleeper hit if picked up by the right studio (Lionsgate has been tipped in this regard). Certainly the timing is perfect, with Wiig, Hamm, Rudolph, and O'Dowd all having appeared in BRIDESMAIDS, and Scott appearing on the popular (and great) PARKS & RECREATION. Certainly this would be a no-brainer for a studio to put out.
Don't be fooled though, as FRIENDS WITH KIDS is not another BRIDESMAIDS, not that there's anything wrong with that. The comedy here is much less broad, with this having more in common with sophisticated French comedies like HEARTBREAKER, than anything else we've seen in theatres for awhile.
Certainly the subject matter is relevant to anyone over thirty. I'm crossing that milestone is a few weeks (gulp), but already I've started to see friends disappear as they start families of their own- which is natural, and something we'll all have to deal with at some point. FRIENDS WITH KIDS takes a broad look at the way having children affects all kinds of couples, with the Dowd/Rudolph couple bickering, but still having a thick and thin, enduring relationship, while the once red-hot coupling of Hamm and Wiig, becomes a waking nightmare for both. Hamm's character in particular is shown to struggle with his new role, climaxing on a ski-trip all the friends take later in the film.
Despite Wigg, Hamm, and Rudolph being the big names here, the weight of the film rests squarely on the coupling of Scott and Westfeldt, who also wrote and directed (following her 2002 indie hit, KISSING JESSICA STEIN). Their relationship is portrayed in a realistic, three-dimensional way, with neither immediately succumbing to the others charms, and the fate of any potential coupling remaining in limbo for most of the film. Scott is particular seems primed to break out with this film, which is well-deserved, as he's a truly funny guy (PARTY DOWN is pure genius). This is also less broad than the work he's mostly known for, but he excels at both the comedic and dramatic parts of the film, as does Westfeldt, who I'm less familiar with.
The ever-controversial Megan Fox also has a supporting part as Scott's first serious girlfriend after fathering a child, and while I've been critical of her in the past, she's remarkably at ease here. She totally ditches any of the sex-kittenish mannerisms she showed in the TRANSFORMERS films and JENNIFER'S BODY, and if she's able to pull off her part in Judd Apatow's film as well as she pulls off this one, she may be in line for a real comeback (but was she ever really gone?).
All in all, FRIENDS WITH KIDS was a charming and sophisticated comedy, that should play well with more mature audiences when it eventually comes out. I quite enjoyed it, and while it's not split your sides funny, it's a very pleasant watch.
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