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July 27, 2012

4

Friends with Kids

by Franz Patrick


Friends with Kids (2011)
★★ / ★★★★

Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt), best friends since college, the former a womanizer and the latter not having much luck in the dating scene, decided to have a kid even though they weren’t sexually attracted to one another. Julie wasn’t getting any younger and Jason always wanted to have a child so they thought it was the perfect opportunity to get what they wanted without marriage and a possible divorce if things didn’t quite work out. Written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, “Friends with Kids” occasionally featured very funny dialogue and realistic conversations about what it was like to be in a committed relationship, but it was not consistently sharp enough to avoid the trappings of the romantic comedy genre designed to make the audience swoon. Its sweetness, especially toward the end, didn’t feel real nor earned. The film’s small moments were highly enjoyable. I smiled from ear to ear whenever Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O’Dowd), friends of Jason and Julie who happened to have an age difference of six years, interacted. They could be yelling at each other from across the room but their love was so present, the bickering ended up rather adorable instead of annoying. The manner in which they expressed their frustrations, even though it wasn’t pretty, felt healthy instead of damaging and I wanted to stick around. I also was tickled when Jason and Julie decided to make a baby the traditional way. As I shuffled in my seat with unbearable awkwardness, admittedly, I wanted to keep watching because I could relate to it. I found it absolutely hilarious because my friends, whom I’ve known for at least ten years, and I have had to kiss each other on the lips due to a game we decided to play. I understood how the characters felt when they couldn’t help but laugh and make jokes as their lips moved closer to one another. Unfortunately, most of its middle section was packed with predictable situations so irritating, it almost lost its charm. In order to have some sort of conflict, the writing resulted to the feelings of jealousy Jason and Julie experienced when one went on a date or had sex with another person. As insecurities were revealed and uncertainties emerged in what they had, I began to question why they weren’t more details about Jason and Julie’s friends who also had kids. I was especially curious about Missy (Kristen Wiig) and Ben’s (Jon Hamm) crumbling marriage. While they were shown looking very unhappy whenever there was a special gathering designed so that the friends could catch up, we weren’t given the chance to see the evolution of their relationship. The lives of the married friends felt like footnotes at best which didn’t make sense because Jason and Julie valued them so much. If anything, the screenplay should’ve strived to make us value them, too. Moreover, the film would have been more focused and rewarding if the friends’ marriage functioned like mirrors to Jason and Julie’s partnership, highlighting trends along the way to support the idea that a marriage and a partnership without a certificate have similarities so striking, their differences, in a lot of ways, ought be negligible. Since “Friends with Kids” offered to give us a peek at an alternative lifestyle yet at times it ingratiated itself with the so-called norm, its messages didn’t quite ring true.

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jul 28 2012

    I’ve seen the film available to rent via iTunes … but something is holding me back — I think your review just solidified my decision.

    Reply
    • Aug 3 2012

      If you need a break and feel like watching something silly and not much more, this would be it. This could’ve been hilarious because of the cast but the writing was kind of a letdown, really.

      Reply
  2. You are awesome! I’m giving you the Liebster Blog Award – http://bit.ly/MmtyhV

    Reply
    • Aug 5 2012

      Thanks, Shala! I hope to get around to it after my vacation. =p Keep them food pictures coming on your Twitter! :)

      Reply

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