‘Friends With Kids’ takes a modern slant on child rearing, plus ‘John Carter’
Actress Jennifer Westfeldt makes her debut as director, as well as writer (Kissing Jessica Stein) with Friends With Kids, a sharp New York-based romantic drama featuring a great cast. The cast was an asset — Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox, Edward Burns — even before the success of Bridesmaids elevated the profiles of Wiig and Rudolph (O’Dowd and Hamm were also in the film).
I hope the Bridesmaids connection makes more people take notice of this touching and funny film about a new take on parenthood in the modern world. It’s funny and touching and there is one prominent “poop” joke, but that’s where the similarity to Bridesmaids ends.
This is a movie that flirts with romantic and comedic clichés but for the most part brings a fresh perspective as it dives under and around obvious traps while keeping the emotional level dancing from lighthearted to achingly intimate as needed.
Julie Keller (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason Fryman (Adam Scott) are 30-something best friends since college, both single, both straight, who live in the same rent-controlled Manhattan apartment building.
As the story unfolds, they observe their married friends adding children to the mix. The level-headed, likable Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O’Dowd), seem to be taking the kids in stride, while the more anxious Missy (Kristen Wiig) and Ben (Jon Hamm), seem to be losing the romantic spark as old married folks with a son.
With these prime examples in front of them, Julie and Jason decide they want to have a child and shared parenting responsibilities as single people dating others. The reaction of their friends ranges from thoughts of insanity to stupidity and the afterthought that maybe there have been worse ideas in the world.
Julie and Jason do have a child on their terms and seem to have the parenting bit down like clockwork, both annoying and fascinating their friends. In addition, they have each found romantic partners, foxy babe Mary Jane (Megan Fox) for Jason and likable hunk Kurt (Edward Burns) for Julie.
The intimate bonds of joint parenting begin to strain the bonds of platonic love into something like real love, but will they act on it?
Friends With Kids brings a sophisticated edge to the conundrum, and plenty of laughs as its expert cast delivers the laughs as well as the emotional ups and downs of its protagonists.
It was Jennifer Lawrence’s fierceness and devotion to family as the memorable Ozark teen Ree in Winter’s Bone that likely showed she had the grit to play the fierce survivalist Katniss Everdeen in the hoped for next big movie franchise, kicking off with The Hunger Games, based on the insanely popular novel by Suzanne Collins.