Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Friends With Kids (2012)

Seen: On my laptop, streamed from netflix instant.

I missed this in theaters and had wanted to check it out mainly for the great cast and because I always mean to pay more attention to Jennifer Westfeldt. The main premise centers around long-time best friends Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt), who love each other platonically and sadly watch as their married best friends Alex (Chris O'Dowd) and Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Missy (Kristen Wiig) and Ben (Jon Hamm) struggle through the emotional strain of child-rearing. Jason and Julie both want a child but aren't in serious relationships, and so they decide to have a baby together as friends, with completely equal custody, finances, and time commitments but none of the romantic fallout. Their experiment works surprisingly well for several months, but their situation becomes more complicated when they each find their supposed "one" and their feelings for one another gradually change.

Remember that I'm weirdly a sucker for romantic comedies, and even though most of them suck I watch them more often than you'd probably think. The combination of actors I like and indie cred lent Friends With Kids a positive aura, even if I remember reading unfavorable reviews. For me it was an enjoyable, well-written film if hackneyed and drawn-out in its conclusion. The foundation of Julie and Jason's friendship is really strong, and I always enjoy stories about platonic friendships between men and women just because you don't see it too often where it isn't secretly about sex and/or love. Several of my closest friends have been dudes so I like seeing it represented, even if in this case I knew it would probably ultimately end in romance. Scott and Westfeldt are funny and believable in their friendship (though they're both naive and self-absorbed as people) and it was actually pretty interesting to see how their experimental baby-rearing worked out. I liked how the film wasn't really about children, but about how having children can affect adult relationships. It's shallow and ridiculous at times but it does try to grapple with these issues in a realistic way.

The dialogue is often hilarious and I liked most of the cast in their roles- though Wiig didn't get much to do, sadly, and Chris O'Dowd, while great, was not convincing me with that accent. And yes, Megan Fox is there as a sexy young person who doesn't like kids, which I can dig, but her character is kind of a non-entity. The real failing, for me, was how the story progressed. A lot of time passes over the course of 107 minutes, and the constant movement of years and months later made it drag and I just felt like the plot moves erratically. The ending is also pretty stupid. I mean, I knew this was all going to end in lovey-dovey cliches but jeez, the way it was done was just weird. And while Jason was a good friend, he seemed like a dick boyfriend, so I actually just wanted him and Julie to remain friend-parents and maybe forget the romantic stuff. Like they could realize that this great friendship was so strong they didn't really need to fret over serious romantic commitments, or something?


Pair This Movie With: Mmm I don't know, I would recommend Westfeldt's debut Kissing Jessica Stein which is also about the line between friendship and romance, but honestly I don't remember it very well so I can't say how good it is? For more Adam Scott being a lovable jerk there's always Party Down.

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