Julie (Jessica Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) are best friends from college who are in their late 30s and single. They both want children, but have seen the toll that having kids have had on the relationships of their married friends (Kristin Wiig, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd). They decide to have a baby together – as friends – and then split the responsibility of raising the child while they then look for their perfect partner.
What could possibly go wrong?
The main issue I had with this film was two-fold: you need to buy into the premise that having children is destructive to the marital relationship and the movie ultimately can’t decide if it is a broad comedy or a drama and ultimately that indecision doesn’t quite make the movie work. While having children certainly does complicate a marriage, the movie makes the married couples into stereotypes who do nothing but scream at their partner once the little ones arrive. This is partially hyperbole for comedic effect (and to set up the major decision that the movie is based on), but I would have preferred a slightly more nuanced portrayal.
The movie also never quite explains why failing to be in a romantic partnership with the parent of your child actually makes the job easier. Julie and Jason do seem to have a better time of it than their married counterparts in the beginning, but without any real justification. You just need to buy into it without question.
What ultimately saved the movie for me was its outstanding cast, though some members are used much more effectively than others. For example, Kristin Wiig isn’t given much to do except look unhappy. But I genuinely like everyone who was involved with the film (including a supporting role for Edward Burns) and the film is at its best when focused on the friendships between the couples and Julie and Jason. And anything involving Jon Hamm is given an automatic bump in my book.
The advertising campaign for the movie definitely plays up the fact that 4 people who appeared in Bridesmaids also appear in this film. I think that is a mistake because this is a very different kind of movie. Do not go into this expecting Bridesmaids 2: Electric Boogaloo or you will be very disappointed.
I first heard about Friends with Kids while it was on the festival circuit and initially thought it was going to be a different movie – more about what it is like when you reach the age when all your friends are having or have children and you are not and the toll that can take on the relationships. I think there is a story to be told there (maybe that is what my book should be about), but cannot fault the filmmakers for their creative decisions. But I do wish that their final project had made better use of the cast and been less disjointed. I had high hopes for this one, but was ultimately a little disappointed.
Friends with Kids opens nationwide Friday March 9th.