Friends With Kids

Having kids changes things.  Drastically.  Jason Fryman (Adam Scott) and Julie Keller (Jennifer Westfeldt) witness this first hand.  They used to go out with Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O’Dowd) and Missy (Kristen Wiig) and Ben (John Hamm) all the time.  Then the couples all had kids.  Now they rarely get together, due to the kids.

When they do find a chance to all get together, it rarely goes as planned.  Leslie and Alex are constantly bickering about whose turn it is to take care of the kids.  Alex seems to be constantly in the bathroom.  It’s his escape from the insanity.

Missy and Ben are just downright mean to each other.  It’s obvious that the kid has all but ended their marriage.  They fight, not bicker, endlessly.  They harp on each other about everything.  Usually driving Missy to the point of tears.  You know things won’t end well on this front.

Jason and Julie are in a different place.  They are best friends.  Have been for years.  They talk to each other about everything.  Even calling each other while their respective overnight guests are sleeping to play the “Would you rather” game.  (It’s a game where they are presented with two horrific causes of death and they must pick one.)  They enjoy where their lives are now.

After a get together with the couples, Jason and Julie come up with a plan to beat the system.  They both want kids, but don’t want to wreck their lives.  They decide to have a kid together and continue their lives as they now exist.  This lets them experience the joys of kids while not losing the excitement and romance of dating and looking for “the one.”  The couples all think this is a terrible idea, but don’t want to crush Jason and Julie’s dream.

After the baby is born, things are going well.  Surprisingly well.  Jason and Julie seem to have things together and are living the “perfect” life.  The couples are shocked at how well the “experiment” is going.

Then Jason meets Mary Jane (Megan Fox).  She may be “the one.”  This knocks Julie for a loop.  Until she meets Kurt (Edward Burns). He may be “the one.”  Suddenly things start going downhill.

Written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, Friends With Kids offers, quite possibly, the most real look inside the life of couples with kids.  Things are never perfect.  Plans are constantly changed.  Parents bicker.  It’s how life really is.

The story itself is pretty good.  A touch predictable, but nothing worth faulting the film over.  It’s a dramedy.  Heavy on the drama.  The humor never really reaches its potential.  (Then again, I wasn’t a huge fan of Bridesmaids, and this is the same crew.  Maybe this just isn’t my style of humor.)

That said, the cast, overall, did a decent job.  Adam Scott and Chris O’Dowd really made the film.  Without them, the movie wouldn’t have had much comedy at all.  The comedic timing/stylings of these two are spot on.  Maya Rudolph doesn’t really disappoint.  But it’s Maya Rudolph in the role she always plays.  However, it was nice to see a slightly different side of Kristen Wiig.  She, too, always seems to be playing one of two roles, and this was neither of them.

Ironically, my biggest complaint is for writer/director/star, Jennifer Westfeldt.  Her character was a bit lackluster.  I don’t know if it’s the actor or the role, but she didn’t do anything for me, performance-wise.  (My second biggest complaint is a props thing.  Who just gets steamed pot stickers?  I mean, if they aren’t pan-fried after steaming them, what’s the point?  It’s just a gooey mess.)

It’s not a bad movie.  It’s just not a great movie.  As I mentioned, the look into the life of those married with children is probably as realistic as I’ve seen portrayed in the movie.  But that’s about the only saving grace.  If you’re bored on a Friday, and the Redbox is looking bare, pick it up.  But don’t be expecting some hilarious Bridesmaids style comedy (even if that is your thing).  If you do, you’ll be left feeling empty.

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