Friday, December 14, 2012

Friends with Kids - QC Review

Directed byJennifer Westfeldt
Starring: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm and Maya Rudolph
Rated: R  
Runtime: 1 hour 47 minutes  
Release Date: March 16, 2012

Kids change people, sometimes that change is good, sometimes its bad and sometimes it is difficult and both parents need to work through it. The one thing most don't take into consideration is how having kids effects their friends who don't have any of their own. Writer/Director and star Jennifer Westfeldt has decided to use her directorial debut and Sophmore scripting to explore the complicated world of friends and their kids or lack there of. It's a subject ripe with possibilities, who hasn't lost a close friend to a new born baby or fell out of the loop when their friends begin discussing the many joys and terrors of parenting? Being alienated from a close knit group of friends because you aren't the one with a kid or love interest is a something we have all been faced with at some point or another from multiple vantage points, which is what makes "Friends with Kids" such an enjoyable little experiment.

Why experiment? Because that is exactly what long time friends Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) decide to do. After seeing their close friends Alex and Leslie (Chris O'Dowd and Maya Rudolph) and Ben and Missy (Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig) go from all night party animals into troubled parents, they decide to try and have a kid of their own but with no strings attached. Compromises, mistrust and all the emotional baggage that comes with being married and raising a kid are tossed out the window as both Julie and Jason forge a union to prove that having a kid can be an enjoyable experience, even during the messy parts. This friendly agreement of course causes sparks of jealousy and confusion amongst their friends and as Julie and Jason discover that perhaps their is more to their experiment than just a platonic relationship, their friends begin to see the flaws in their flawless plan.

What works about "Friends with Kids" is the natural chemistry between all the principle actors. Each of the couples just click in the way they should. The troubled but loving marriage of Alex and Leslie, the consistent decline of affection in Ben and Missy's marriage and the odd but effective arrangement that keeps Julie and Jason so invigorated and supportive of each other, they just simply feel like real people with real issues. Some of it gets a little bit too sappy and dangerously close to a standard rom-com formula, but what wins out at the end of the day are the actors and the fresh perspective of Westfeldt's script. Even a late film appearance by Megan Fox in one of her most fitting roles ever works surprisingly well. It's rare to find a film that takes on the challenges of relationships, friends and the children that complicates their lives and do it without crossing the line of becoming obnoxiously melodramatic or too cute and clean.

It's not that much of a stretch to say "Friends with Kids" is one of  the best romantic dramas of the year. It's sweet without ever becoming annoying, the characters all have flaws but realistic ones that don't feel overly forced and the main duo of Julie and Jason are honestly one of the best on screen couples this year. You will have little trouble becoming invested in their individual struggles and will likely become fully immersed into their lives together with their newborn baby. You won't find it on any awards lists or any end of the year lists, but don't let that lack acknowledgement deter you one bit. If you are on the lookout for a fun little movie to cuddle up with a loved one and watch, then this one fits the bill nicely and will leave you with a pleasant grin by the time it is all over.





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