Starring Jennifer Westfeldt, Kristen Wiig, Megan Fox, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph and Adam Scott. Directed by Jennifer Westfeldt. 100 minutes. 14A
If you get one thing out of Friends With Kids, it’s that Bridesmaids was much more than just a great ensemble cast.
You see, Jennifer Westfeldt’s directing debut (you may know her as the star of Kissing Jessica Stein), features the majority of the main cast of that surprise hit of a rom-com (Kristen Wiig, Chris O’Dowd, Maya Rudolph and of course, Westfeldt’s long-time bf, Jon Hamm). And yet, it can’t even begin to live up to it in laughs and or sincerity.
Friends With Kids is like a toddler you’re forced to babysit for your pseudo-bud from work. It’s fine at first, pretty easy-going and even entertaining, but after about an hour, the little one starts to get grating and you start to get stupid bored. You really wish you things would start looking up for you and the kid—or rather, you and this well-meaning, yet meandering movie—but in truth, you just want get home and jump back in your non blankie-infested bed.
The concept of the film is slightly original, or at least a tad different for the current chick flick climate. Instead of focusing simply on a desperate single gal with a ticking clock, Friends With Kids follows two opposite sex BFFs (Westfeldt and Parks and Recreation’s always adorable Adam Scott) who decide to have a kid together because, well, they really want one (and all their friends have already done it—and totally changed). It all gets off on a perfectly platonic foot, with Mama and Papa still happily dating other peeps post-placenta. But things get tricky (or to continue with the metaphor, trippy?) when one of them develops more than faux-familial feelings for the other.
The story may ring true for many modern families, but as a movie, it comes across weirdly false and hopelessly predictable. It’s not Westfeldt or Scott’s fault (they have a sweet, sweet chemistry) but rather, the overly glossy cinematography and juvenile jokes. Okay, so maybe it is a bit of Westfeldt’s fault. (Sorry, Mrs. Draper!)
The problem with Friends With Kids is that it’s decidedly indecisive, forever unsure what side of rom-com it stands on. Sometimes this can work (see: Bridesmaids), but only if the flick maintains the back-and-forth and never officially commits to either side. The first twenty minutes of Friends may be really funny in a frank, adult way, but the second half is purely kids stuff: corny, skittish and poop joke-filled. C