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Friends with Kids


friends with kids poster

It’s a story as old as time, really. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl become best friends. Boy and girl can’t find lifelong significant others so they decide to have a baby together to avoid the toll a kid takes on a marriage. OK, maybe this story isn’t all that old, but since Friends with Kids can’t stick to its laurels, the story becomes as old as time.

Grade:

D+

Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt; also writer and director) notice that when their friends, Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm or Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd, have kids, everything changes. Some of these changes, especially for the former pairing, end up putting a wrench in the chain of marital bliss. So, like any best friends, Jason and Julie decide to have a baby. It’s Best Friends of the Opposite Sex 101 people!

Friends with Kids does not boast a fresh humor. It does not boast unique, inspiring characters. Actually, most of them are incredibly annoying, except for O’Dowd and Rudolph (surprisingly). In particular, Julie is a sad, self-deprecating woman who cannot live on her own; she is wholly dependent on her man, if one is present or not. It’s grating and, frankly, not a good role model to make the focal point of your film.

Friends-With-Kids-1

What Friends with Kids does provide is an alternative. Specifically, we get to see an alternative lifestyle, and it works until Julie naturally falls for Jason. There was potential here, real potential, to make a statement. This is a new world where the non-nuclear family reigns supreme and alternative lifestyles are simply becoming lifestyles.

Yet, when the push comes to shove, Friends with Kids balks at chance to prove a point. Jason and Julie go from mutual admiration and platonic attraction to uncontrollable love—albeit at different speeds. He is too focused on having sex with as many big-breasted women as possible and she is too focused on…well, nothing really. She’s just too shy to put herself out there until Ed Burns comes along.

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Then we have a chance. She is happy with him, and Jason is happy with Megan Fox, whose inclusion in the film is purely aesthetic. But no. We’re forced to sit through another “You had me at hello” moment and everyone leaves disappointed, except of course the kid.

Westfeldt clearly had the initial courage to make a social statement, but undermines her own authority by making her female characters weak-willed and succumbing to the perceived film standards of the American public for a happy ending. I just wish movies like this would stop talking down to us, thinking we’re not ready to tackle “tough” issues through comedy.

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