(Published in Issue 11 of my publication In Retrospect)
Written by, produced by, directed by and starring Jennifer Westfeldt, Friends With Kids follows two best friends – Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt) – who decide to have a child together while keeping their relationship platonic. Their aim is to avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships, as witnessed with their best friends Ben (Jon Hamm – Westfeldt’s real-life partner) and Missy (Kristen Wiig), and Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O’Dowd), but will it be as easy as they had planned? When Jason meets Mary Jane (Megan Fox) and Julie meets Kurt (Edward Burns), it seems like it may just work out for the couple.
As Westfeldt’s directorial debut, Friends With Kids is a solid and very pleasing comedy that hits the nail right on the head. The film is very real – the script, the acting, the relationships, and the emotions are all relatable and believable – and whilst it is a typical adult rom-com, it deals with a subject that is often questioned but rarely looked at in film.
I’ve not many read good reviews about this film yet but there was something about it that I personally really enjoyed. I liked that we were given a number of different relationships to focus on rather than just the main couple, which reminded me of one of my favourite rom-com’s, The Last Kiss. Because of this, we were given three different couples to get to know and understand and we could see the different ways that they dealt with starting up a family. I also liked that it wasn’t cliché. Whilst it contains a plot twist that you would guess from the trailer alone, Westfeldt’s script brings some real originality to the scenario.
The cast, as well, is brilliant. Starring four actors from the Bridesmaids cast – Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd and Jon Hamm – it’s fair to say that they know how to work together and get a reaction from the audience. Chris O’Dowd was my favourite addition to the cast, but it was the main couple, Westfeldt and Scott, that I really came to enjoy. The duo has a really good chemistry on-screen together which appears unforced and natural and, because of this, you do find yourself rooting for the inevitable twist in the plot and a final happy ever after. Westfeldt didn’t have the most solid performance and it was quite difficult to relate to her character in places, although I am now a fan of hers after this film, but Scott was always there to pick things up again. His character was by far the most enjoyable in the film and it was through his role that came most of the laughs.
There were a few surprises in the casting as well. Kelly Bishop, the grandmother from Gilmore Girls, was the first. Whilst her role was small, I felt that she really fit in with the rest of the cast. The biggest surprise, however, was that Megan Fox fit into her role really well too. From seeing the film’s trailer month’s ago I never imagined that her inclusion would have done much for me, but she was actually pretty brilliant and her role added a sense of seriousness to the film on a whole.
The only one annoyance I have is that there is a lot of baby talk, which at times can get quite irritating, but other than that I found myself laughing along and feeling for the characters all the way through. Friends With Kids may not be a ground-breaking comedy but it is thoroughly enjoyable, and it’s a great first work all-around by Westfeldt.