Photo Courtesy of JoJo Whilden
“Friends with Kids” talks a lot but says very little. It’s extremely charming and quirky, with one of the best comedic casts to grace our screens, but it comes across like a more somber version of “When Harry Met Sally,” complete with snappy dialogue and great chemistry.
“Friends with Kids” is written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”), who also stars as Julie, the soft-spoken and sweet main female character who is best friends with the adorable Jason, played by a smug Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation). The two characters have some great rapid-fire dialogue throughout the film, quickly establishing them as the soul mates that never were. As they see the rest of their friends move on with their lives and have kids, they decide that they want the dream, just without all the strings. Julie and Jason decide on a rather complicated, and a bit shaky, arrangement in which they would have a kid together and raise it, without getting together. Of course, in a romantic comedy, this is a recipe for disaster, but in the meantime, we get all the hilarity that ensues along the way.
Although it centers on Julie and Jason, “Friends with Kids” is more of an ensemble film than you’d think. Not as much as it would like to think, however. The rest of the main cast, oddly, are all “Bridesmaids” alum, but those expecting a sequel will be sadly mistaken. Although they provide some great comic relief and provide a friendly rapport with Julie and Jason, they are mostly put on the back burner, especially when their subplots take a turn for the dramatic.
Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm play Missy and Ben, the passionate and seemingly perfect couple with cracks that begin to surface in their relationship. Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd play Leslie and Alex, the frazzled, but loving couple. Megan Fox (“Transformers”) and Edward Burns (“27 Dresses”) round out the rest of the cast as potential love interests for Jason and Julie, respectively.
“Friends with Kids” is fun, fast-paced and witty, but it comes off a little generic and cliche at times. There are some scenes that are almost ripped straight out of “When Harry Met Sally,” such as the scene in which they talk to each other on the phone every night before going to sleep, but it seems like the film is banking on its audience having never seen the 1989 classic. It relies a little too heavily on the natural charm of the actors to get through the heavy exposition and drama, but the actors are all so likable it’s not hard to forgive them. Jennifer Westfeldt has a bit of a soft-spoken demeanor, but it allows her to bounce off Adam Scott’s character well. It was refreshing to start off the film in the middle of their relationship, in which their rapport is already well-established.
The actors all seem a bit too comfortable in their roles, until the dramatic second act of the film where life starts to change, friends start to not see each other anymore and people begin to move on. The film gets a bit lost here, trying to decide whether to go the dramatic route or the comedic route. Ultimately, it decides on the dramatic route, which surprisingly pays off well, because of the consistently good dialogue and the great chemistry between all the actors.
Unfortunately, “Friends with Kids” gets burdened by the generic romantic comedy tropes and the heavy drama, but the writing and acting makes up for it. “Friends with Kids” is a sweet, witty film that succeeds because of the sheer charm of the actors.