Friends with Kids: A Futile Attempt to Beat the System

Photo Credit: Roadside Attractions
July 9th, 2012

Friends with Kids: A Futile Attempt to Beat the System

-- "Friends with Kids" can be considered daring in many ways. The movie is based on a circle of close friends grappling with the normal challenges of life: love, romance, children and relationships. What is unusual here is the course of action taken by these friends to deal with these very normal challenges.

The movie is directed, written and produced by Jennifer Westfeldt, who also stars in it. Although this is Westfeldt's directional debut, nowhere is that evident in the comedy. Westfeldt is a seasoned actress and screenwriter known for her roles in various movies including "Wonderful Town" and "Kissing Jessica Stein." She was assisted in by her partner, Jon Hamm, in producing the show. Hamm is also a well-known actor, and many fans will remember him for his award-winning role in "Mad Men." He also stars alongside his partner in this movie. Other stars in this interesting comedy include Adam Scot, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Edward Burns, Kristen Wiig and Megan Fox.

The movie revolves around Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt), an advertising executive and a charitable investment advisor, respectively. The two are best friends who also happen to live in the same building. They have a mutual friendship with two childless couples Ben and Missy (who seem to think and act as if sex makes the world go round), and Alex and Leslie, the placid ones. Life for these friends continues as usual, and they have wonderful times together, until both couples get children.

The arrival of the children derails the romantic and other aspects of lives of the couples, and things can never be the same again. In fact, things get so bad that Jason and Julie are convinced that the usual "marry and get children" routine stage of life may be flawed. Matters go from bad to worse during Jason's birthday party, which turns extremely chaotic. The best friends resolve not to go their friends' way, fearing that their respective marriages may suffer when they get children, just like the marriages of their friends. Instead, they resolve to have children before meeting and deciding on whom to marry.

A bright idea then seems to hit the two, the fact that they can have a kid together without marrying, despite the fact that the two have never shared romance together. As expected, their friends are against the arrangement, and they turn prophets of doom by claiming that the adjustment would be catastrophic. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), they go ahead and have a baby, Joe, and even go through the adjustment well at first.

Scott fits very well in the comedy as the leading male, and some critics claim he looks like he could be the son of Tom Cruise and Michael Sheen without their celebrity baggage. Others claim that though the comedy is funny enough, there is no real invention one gleams from it. Others have gone as far as to say that it can be compared to "Bridesmaids". All the same, the acting is great and the fairytale actions of some characters are good.

Watching the movie, you get the feeling that the arrangement between Jason and Julie that kicks off so well cannot continue indefinitely. This feeling is vindicated when they start acting on their promise of dating other people after having the baby. Jason starts to date a dancer, Mary Jane, and Julie gets into a relationship with a divorcee, Kurt. The issue of children inevitably crops up again when Kurt bars his date from meeting his children, claiming that she can only meet them after their relationship becomes full blown. At the same time, Jason's Mary Jane categorically says that she does not want any children.

Another blow up in the movie happens on a skiing vacation to Vermont organized by Jason and Julie for their kid Joe. They bring along their friends Ben, Missy, Alex and Leslie. Ben brings to the open what most of their friends think of the arrangement between Jason and Julie at a chaotic dinner. After the vacation, things deteriorate further between Ben and his wife, and they opt for divorce.

In the end, though, the inevitable happens: Julie declares to Jason that she is in love with him, Jason does not return the love and the two go their separate ways. Some say that "Friends with Kids" should have ended there, but the writer and the producers had other ideas. At the end of the movie, Jason declares his love for Julie and the two share what they seem to have been destined for all along-romantic love. They simply could not beat the system and get away with it.