Friends with Kids

9 Jan

friends with kids

Director: Jennifer Westfeldt

Writer: Jennifer Westfeldt

Stars: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott and Maya Rudolph

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 107 minutes

 

Here is another film seemingly aimed at young parents and those trying for children. It follows hard on the heels of the incredibly poor “What to Expect…” and whilst not as bad as that, it is still a mediocre effort. The writer, star and director are one in Jennifer Westfeldt and she was able to rope in her off-screen partner Jon Hamm as well as good friends Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig (who featured together in “Bridesmaids” along with Chris O’Dowd who also turns up in this comedy / drama). It follows that there is a nice camaraderie among the cast and the first 25 minutes are funny. However, it is downhill thereafter.

During that smart opening section the film is funny, but also a little dark. The material is adult and arch with a number of nicely non-politically correct gags. The concept is also promising – the long-time single best friends decide to make a baby together believing that two committed, but single parents is better than most modern couples. The friends, Westfeldt and Adam Scott, are charming together and appear more than capable of doing the unorthodox kid thing right. They are best friends that are assumed to be a couple by strangers and that are hoped to be a couple by mutual friends (so guessing the ending isn’t hard). Their wider circle of friends (Hamm, Wiig, Rudolph, O’Dowd) are also a colourful, albeit stereotyped, bunch.

The problems with the story start about half-way through and are compounded by a serious lack of laughs in the second half. A key scene that’s set in a Vermont ski chalet, with a group bust-up and alcohol induced truth telling among friends, is whiny, self-absorbed and melodramatic. There is also a sudden switch of focus to the struggling couple Hamm and Wiig, but we have little empathy or interest in them. And even though the ending is telegraphed from the start, it could have been handled without going over-the-top and harvesting clichés. That is a real disappointment and sums up a film that started off with a bang, but finished with a whimper.

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