Film review: ‘Friends With Kids’ starts bold then reels it in
Thu, Mar 8, 2012 (3:15 p.m.)
Jennifer Westfeldt’s Friends With Kids may be pitched as an indie dramedy, but it’s just as predictable and contrived as any Hollywood romantic comedy, only without the advantage of amusing comic relief to distract from the thuddingly obvious plotting. Westfeldt, who wrote the screenplay and makes her directorial debut, plays single New Yorker Julie, unlucky in love and distracted by the the loud ticking of her biological clock. Julie’s best friend Jason (Adam Scott) is also eager to be a parent, and so the two agree to have a baby together as friends, and then get right back into the dating pool.
Will these longtime friends who are clearly perfect for each other discover that they are clearly perfect for each other, while they raise their child together and date placeholder alternatives (played by Megan Fox and Edward Burns)? Clearly they will, and Westfeldt never takes them in anywhere but the most expected directions. The supporting cast features Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm as Julie and Jason’s married-parent best friends, but none of these very funny people gets much in the way of comedy to perform. Westfeldt the filmmaker makes a mistake in casting Westfeldt the actress, who’s a whiny, timid performer and can never convincingly sell Julie’s supposed charms. Even Scott, so winningly sardonic on TV’s Party Down and Parks and Recreation, comes across as a total wet blanket.
Julie and Jason start out by making an unconventional life choice that may seem idiotic but is at least bold and personal, and Westfeldt then spends the entire movie pummeling them back into traditional gender and relationship roles. For a movie that presents itself as progressive and bohemian, Friends With Kids turns out to be irritatingly judgmental and superficial.