Movie Review: “Friends with Kids”

Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel March 26, 2012

Taking “friends with benefits” to a whole new level.

Friends with Kids is a comedy about two friends who decide to have a kid without the “messiness” of marriage. It’s a simple concept with huge implications for both the characters concerned, Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) and the married friends with children they end up slightly insulting with their plan.

Jennifer Westfeldt (Jon Hamm’s real life main squeeze) wrote, directed and starred in this delightful tale of relationship pessimism. With a tagline like, “Love. Happiness. Kids. Pick Two” you know you’re not going to be in for a sweeping romance that’ll make single people feel terrible (a la every Nicholas Sparks adaptation). Instead, this quirky comedy deals with the insane relationship game-changer, which is having children.  This was inspired by Westfeldt’s real- life, childless relationship with Jon Hamm. The fact they don’t have children clearly inspired Westfeldt’s idea for this film, where not having kids can make you look at your friends who have kids differently, and how it can alter a relationship negatively or positively.

Julie is a cross between the awkward Sarah Chalke in Scrubs, and the always quirky Lisa Kudrow, in well, everything she’s ever been in. She’s loveable, but has bad luck in love but would like at least one child before she gets too old. Jason is the kind of guy who prefers one night stands to love, but yet still wants kids for some reason. Sounds like a common set up, and it is. They’ve been friends for 19 years, they’ve gone through everything together, and they live in the same apartment building, so naturally they decide to have a kid, which inevitably causes issues in their relationship, after acting like an ad about how unconventional relationships can still produce a stable, child-raising environment.

These issues regarding love are what the married couples go through too. Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O’Dowd) are charming together, even with their troubles. Ben (Jon Hamm) and Missy (Kristen Wiig) are…less charming. They don’t really have the spark that signifies a strong, stable marriage. This is addressed (as well as many other issues) during a pivotal scene where the movie seems to make a huge turn towards the dramatic.

The casting is perfect though and makes the movie so much more enjoyable. Westfeldt’s script is amazingly funny at parts, which adds her to the prestigious list of awesomely funny females, which happens to include two of her castmates- Rudolph and Wiig. The mini Bridesmaids reunion solidifies all of the stunning chemistry these actors have on screen.  Watching them seamlessly interact makes it seem as if they’re not even acting, the performances are authentic and wonderful and certainly the best part of the film.

The story doesn’t really bring anything new to the romantic-comedy table, it just tells a story well. It did however bring a performance out of Megan Fox that wasn’t altogether terrible. But I’m going to assume it was because she was essentially acting as herself. Her character Mary Jane is a kinky, beautiful actress who doesn’t like to be tied down, doesn’t want kids, and is nice but kind of snotty at times.

The film takes you exactly where you know it’s going to go –there’s even a big dramatic a-ha moment for Jason which of course shows his progress from a man-child to a caring, responsible adult. The journey is stereotypical and as an audience member (especially those who have seen a multitude of romantic comedies) you will always be a step ahead of the character’s progress.

It’s fun getting to the end though. It is nice knowing things won’t turn out terribly for at least one couple and it holds out hope for those sweethearts who watch this and hope they can stay in love through all of the hard knocks life brings.

However, the amount of pessimism and negativity regarding marriage, kids, and even relationships and love in general can make this an awkward movie to see with a partner. I would suggest going with friends because at the end of the day I would definitely recommend this movie. It’s smart, quirky, the actors are funny and amazing, and the only negative thing is it’s predictable. But I feel anyone can say that for most romantic comedies out there. Romantic comedies are just fun and are supposed to leave you with at least a tiny glimmer of hope for love, which Friends with Kids definitely accomplishes.

My Rating: 7/10

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About Rachel Ganzewinkel

Rachel loves movies and writing and has found the perfect amalgamation in writing movie reviews for We Eat Films. In between movie watching and the real-life world of work, she enjoys tea, reading, writing, and wearing over-size sweaters (while occassionally doing some of these simultaneously).

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