Synopsis: Two best friends decide to have a child together while keeping their relationship platonic, so they can avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships.
Stars: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox, Edward Burns
Director: Jennifer Westfeldt
Running Length: 107 mins
Random Crew Highlight: Set Decoration Driver – Jesse Getchell
TMMM Score: (8.5/10)
Review: A good modern dramedy is hard to find…they are nearly an endangered species. As of late, audiences have had to endure The Vow and, to a lesser extent, This Means War if they wanted their love stories. For sitting through these and other tired out films we are now rewarded with the arrival of Friends with Kids. It’s a well-acted, well-filmed, and well-written film that doesn’t play it safe and seems to honestly speak to the lives of real people. Ok, ok…you have to overlook the trappings of any film set in New York because everyone seems to have a huge apartment regardless of employment. And get over the fact that even the most harried of the ensemble cast always looks put together in a hip way. These elements are all window dressing for the heart of the plot that revolves around two singletons in a group of marrieds.
Westfeldt wrote and directed this little gem and used her Rolodex wisely to recruit some excellent talent for even the bittiest of itty bitty roles. What’s more, she had a great instinct to where these famous faces should sit at the table of friends she interacts with. Westfeldt was the co-writer of another small miracle, Kissing Jessica Stein, and for her first solo outing she scores big time. None of the dialogue comes off as phony or too cool for school – everyone seems to be talking and reacting like normal people. Kissing Jessica Stein was an adaptation of Westfeldt’s stage play and the dialogue in that film had spark but tended to overreach a bit. That’s not the case here and even when we find ourselves in familiar romantic comedy territory, I was constantly surprised at how the narrative took a creative turn.
With Wiig and Rudolph on the scene don’t be expecting a raucous Bridesmaids reunion. While Rudolph gets the funnier moments of the two, both actresses show some real range; Wiig especially should be sending Westfeldt a great big fruit basket for letting her tackle a role that’s quite different than she’s ever played before. Hamm (Westfeldt’s longtime partner) also gets to trade the Don Draper stoicism and occasional comedic role for a more mature take on an unhappily married man. The film takes place over several years and all involved give enough weight to their characters that we see their lives progress in an understandable fashion. With so many people to take care of, Westfeldt deftly weaves these friends in at opportune moments and rounds them all off nicely so you are never left saying “Whatever happened to X’s character?”
When all is said and done this is a story about Jason (Scott) and Jules (Westfeldt) and Westfeldt couldn’t have asked for a better co-star. Bringing just the right touch of sarcasm and indifference to his role, Scott has a tough role that he handles brilliantly. Even as writer and director, Westfeldt also delivers in the acting category with a warm, Lisa Kudrow-esque vibe.
I can’t stress enough how refreshing it is to see a movie where people talk like real people…warts and all. Some not very nice things are said in the movie and while the final fifteen minutes veers into the mean-spirited and crass arena it recovers well by delivering an ending that is earned and right. Do yourself a favor and bypass all other movies opening this weekend and check this one out.