Friends With Kids
dir-scr Jennifer Westfeldt
prd Joshua Astrachan, Riza Aziz, Lucy Barzun Donnelly, Jon Hamm, Jake Kasdan, Joey McFarland, Jennifer Westfeldt
with Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Megan Fox, Edward Burns, Lee Bryant, Kelly Bishop, Cotter Smith, Derek Cecil
release US 9.Mar.12, UK 29.Jun.12
11/US 1h47
Friends With Kids
Will this ruin our friendship? Scott and Westfeldt

rudolph odowd hamm
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Friends With Kids With a hilariously smart script and a terrific cast, this romantic comedy rises far above the pack, engaging us emotionally and intellectually while offering some telling observations on the state of modern relationships.

Jason (Scott) and his best friend Julie (Westfeldt) are a bit horrified when their coupled pals Leslie and Alex (Rudolph and O'Dowd) and Ben and Missy (Hamm and Wiig) have children. So they decide to have a child without the baggage of a relationship, freeing them to find the right person once they're already single parents. Their baby son is adorable, and raising him brings them closer as friends while allowing them to pursue romances with the hot Mary Jane (Fox) and the sexy Kurt (Burns). But no one else is buying it.

Yes, the script kind of wimps out on its own premise, allowing more traditional values to take over. But along the way, there are astute, knowing scenes that challenge the status quo, finding humour and resonance in a variety of friendships and romantic liaisons. It's fairly impossible not to see yourself somewhere in here, as the superb collection of complex characters circle around each other. And even if the plot is deeply predictable, the script is tricky enough to keep us engaged.

At the centre, Scott and Westfeldt have terrific chemistry as close friends who seem so much more balanced, honest and happy than everyone else, until the script pushes them in another direction. Fox gives her best performance yet (which perhaps isn't saying much) as a lively young women who simply can't cope with baby poo. While Rudolph steals every scene as an uproariously frazzled mum. By contrast, Hamm's more bitterly angry character gives the film some intriguing layers of jagged darkness.

Underneath a constant stream of raucous comedy and sharp dialog, this film makes some serious comments about anyone who's ever said, "Having children won't change us at all." Westfeldt creates some wonderfully chaotic scenes of kid-induced carnage while also observing the deep irony of this stage of life. As one character asks, "How is it possible to love this strange creature more than the person you chose over everyone else?"

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 25.Apr.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall