Review of Friends with Kids
on 2012-05-04 15:46
Movie Review: "Friends with Kids"
Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: March 16, 2012
Directed by: Jennifer Westefeldt
"Friends with Kids" is an indie comedy about a group of 30-somethings trying to navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of marriage and children. As an honest look at adult relationships and how they can change with kids, the film has a remarkable amount of charm and wit. It is the directorial debut of Jennifer Westfeldt, who is best known for writing the hit indie comedy "Kissing Jessica Stein" in 2001, a film that brought her numerous critical accolades. Her script and direction are perfect for this film. With the help of a charming cast made up of many of her and Jon Hamm's close friends, "Friends with Kids" has a nice ensemble feel that makes it an enjoyable time at the movies.
The film follows the friendship of Jason Fryman (Adam Scott) and Julie Keller (Westfeldt), two professional 30-somethings living in Manhattan. The two are best friends who live in the same apartment building. They are close friends with two other married, yet childless, couples. Alex (Chris O'Dowd) and Leslie (Maya Rudolph) are the relaxed and laid-back couple, while Ben (Hamm) and Missy (Kristen Wiig) are the sex-obsessed and fun-loving couple.
As the movie progresses, the married couples begin to have children, while Jason and Julie continue their platonic relationship. Four years pass, and the now married with children couples have begun to see strains in their relationships. A disastrous birthday party at Alex and Leslie's apartment leads Jason and Julie to take stock in their own friendship and romantic future. To avoid the problems and strains seen in their married friends, Julie and Jason decide to have a child and then worry about romantic relationships later. This way, the child won't change any of their future romantic relationships, and they can jointly raise him without altering their own friendship.
Of course, Jason and Julie's friends predict disaster. Despite their warnings, the two go through with it, having a young son named Joe. Jason and Julie continue dating other people, leading to other problems that test the limits of their friendship.
"Friends with Kids" is a nice take on the modern romantic relationship in the city. It feels very personal with bits of Westfeldt and Hamm's own relationship sprinkled into the characters. While the film may not cater to all tastes, it is nice to see an adult take on raising a child as well as one that explores relationships with a mature point of view.
The characters feel lived-in and real. Adam Scott, who is best known for his role on the NBC series "Parks and Recreation," is fantastic as Jason. He brings an earnest feel to the character, allowing the audience to see his growth as a person without slamming them over the head with exposition or over-the-top behavior. Westfeltdt is fantastic as well as Julie, bringing her own experiences from her real-life relationship with Hamm into the film to create a very relatable character.
The movie shares a number of actors from the comedy "Bridesmaids." Kristin Wiig and Hamm in particular appear to be playing a variation of their characters from that film. However, their chemistry makes their plotline shine. Hamm in particular, is great at playing the cad and it's nice to see him in a role that shows off another side of his Don Draper persona. Wiig is fantastic as Missy, giving the actress a chance to appear in a normal role instead of the wacky parts she so often plays on "Saturday Night Live." The scenes with Hamm and Wiig are great, and the two are able to give some of the funniest and most dramatic parts in the movie.
Overall, the film feels tight and well directed by Westfeldt. Audiences shouldn't walk in expecting an auteur-level of direction, but "Friends with Kids" is competently directed and a great foundation for Westfeldt to build on as a filmmaker. The scenes move at a fine pace, and the dialogue is outstanding. While there is nothing truly fancy here, it plays well and is far better than many of the films coming out of the indie world today.
Ultimately, "Friends with Kids" bring a unique angle to romance and life in the big city. While it may not appeal to everyone, it has a certain sensibility that is both charming and sweet, two things that audiences tend to love. It has a great cast, a tight script and a funny outlook on love and children.