Movie review: Friends with Kids
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 01:03
The two months between the Oscar telecast and the start of the summer blockbuster season are the most cinematically tepid of the year. The prestigious offerings of the awards season have passed, leaving only the frivolous, callous or puzzling remains (or in some cases, all three—I’m talking about you, “Project X”). It’s such a delightful surprise, then, that “Friends with Kids” has materialized out of the void, providing captivating adult-minded fare when it is most needed. This film isn’t life-changing, but it will overwhelm audiences with its charm and heart.
Of a half-dozen Gothamite friends, only Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt) remain childless. Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O’Dowd) are expecting, and Missy (Kristen Wiig) and Ben (Jon Hamm) are struggling with a cute screaming runt of their own. Feeling the pangs of their ticking biological clocks but dreading the resentment and frustration that has infected their friends’ marriages, the formerly platonic Jason and Julie elect to go down a newly paved path—to conceive a child together through a one night stand, and then maintain their separate single lives. They plan to share custody and visitation “50/50” and continue to pursue other romantic partners. Naturally, the conventions of modern rom-coms begin to kick in, and both Jason and Julie realize that what was once platonic is now anything but.
Though this is a very subtle and emotionally stirring film, Westfeldt’s screenplay is not without its problems. The film is entirely too glib about the responsibilities of parenthood, creating a shaky foundation on which to build an entire movie. By the film’s end, the child that Jason and Julie produce seems less and less like a living, breathing human and more like a plot device to draw Jason and Julie together. But what the film lacks in freshness, it makes up for in confidence and cohesiveness. The witticisms and dialogue crackle, and the performances are uniformly excellent. As light entertainment goes, “Friends with Kids” is a solid bet for the otherwise depressingly stale releases of early spring movie options.