You should go see “Friends with Kids“, the new movie opening March 9, if you:
- are single and annoyed by all of your friends who have kids and report on every move (including bowel movement) they make
- are single parents, divorced or not
- are thinking about having kids
- babysit and think the parents are idiots and the family dysfunctional
- sat next to a family with annoying kids at a nice restaurant that shouldn’t even allow kids
- are married, exhausted, sleep- and sex-deprived and “living the dream” of parenthood
There’s no escaping the stark truth – marriage is difficult, parenting is really difficult and mixing the two together is…pick your adjective: ridiculous, soul-sucking, a gosh-darned-good-challenge, a recipe for disaster. Your answer will depend on your outlook and personal experience. Personally, I lean more toward “soul-sucking” but that’s just me.
The trick of the title is that the movie is about friends who have kids and then two friends who decide to HAVE a kid. After seeing the downward slide of their friends once they have children, two platonic friends, Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) decide they can buck the system by having a child but avoiding marriage and therefore all of the fallout on the romantic relationship. It all seems so logical and works for a while – until it doesn’t.
The reason it works for a while is what should also be taken as a lesson to all couples contemplating or who have kids: Be respectful and kind to each other, offer the other parent help when they need it, maintain a sense of humor and give each other breaks from parenting on a regular basis. Brilliant!
But then, things start to fall apart for the co-parents when they start to have pesky feelings that mess everything up. That’s when the movie starts to get predictable: Two people care for each other platonically and then one starts to have feelings for the other. The other hooks up with someone else. Then, just when the first person has come to terms with never being with the second, the second develops feelings for the first only the first isn’t available anymore. And then there’s usually a realization of love followed by driving fast or running frantically to the other person and we have a happy ending. Sound familiar? Sure it does because it is a frequently-used storyline and we love it, again and again.
I found that storyline extra familiar because it was so similar to another Jennifer Westfeldt film, “Kissing Jessica Stein” (Westfeldt write, produced and starred in both), a film I love. So redundancy aside, I still rooted for the couple to get together in the end, even though it was so predictable. What wasn’t predictable was filling the final love scene with unnecessary swearing. It just gave a bitter taste to a happy ending. In fact, most of the swearing in the movie was just not necessary and was distracting. Yet when one of the couple’s children repeats swear words, the parents just roll their eyes instead of getting the lesson that kids will repeat what you say so watch what you say. There, I’m off my soapbox.
“Friends with Kids” stars many of the actors from “Bridesmades” including Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig. Megan Fox and Edward Burns are thrown in there for good measure. The acting was very good, especially Jon Hamm’s breakdown scene in a Vermont lodge and Adam Scott’s realization scene at the end. I never managed to feel much for the husband and wife team of Hamm and Wiig. Rudolph and O’Dowd’s performances were the highlight, following the range of relationship typical for couples adding children to their lives.