out of Five
Running time: 107
Enjoyable, well written relationship comedy making some astute observations and providing terrific performances from a superb cast, though the initially promisingly offbeat script ultimately lacks the courage to kick against convention.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein), Friends with Kids stars Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt as single best friends Jason and Julie, whose married friends Leslie and Alex (Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd) and Missy and Ben (Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm) see their marriages deteriorate after they have children. Wanting kids but reasoning that parenthood gets in the way of a loving relationship, Jason and Julie decide to have a child together, allowing them both to continue their search for The One.
Naturally, their friends are horrified, but to their surprise, Jason and Julie manage to make the arrangement work. However, things get complicated when Julie realises she has feelings for Jason just as he finds a new girlfriend, Mary Jane (Megan Fox) and Julie, in turn, starts dating divorced father, Kurt (Edward Burns).
Scott and Westfeldt (co-star Jon Hamm's real-life partner) have genuine chemistry together, sparking off each other nicely and creating a convincing friendship. There's also strong support from Rudolph and O'Dowd (Wiig and Hamm are sadly under-used, though Hamm has a stand-out drunken argument scene), while Megan Fox delivers her best performance to date as Mary Jane and Burns hands in a likeable turn as Kurt.
As with Westfeldt's Kissing Jessica Stein, Friends with Kids has an intriguingly offbeat subject, throwing around unconventional ideas that are not often expressed in mainstream Hollywood comedies and making some astute observations along the way (audience members with children may find the married couples' arguments uncomfortably familiar). In addition, the script crackles with great dialogue, aided by Scott's mastery of deadpan delivery.
The only real problem with the film is that, having tantalisingly hinted at something original and different, Friends with Kids ultimately cops out, playing out more or less as you'd expect.
Similarly, the rather sneaky ploy of casting most of the cast of Bridesmaids (presumably they are all real-life friends) is great for publicity, but is likely to backfire for anyone expecting Bridesmaids-style levels of hilarity as a result. (On top of that, Chris O'Dowd really shouldn't be allowed to do American accents, as he hasn't quite mastered them yet and it's very distracting).
Friends with Kids is an enjoyable relationship comedy with a superb script and terrific performances but it's a shame the film isn't ultimately as offbeat and daring as it could have been.