Grae's Rating:


Banality on board.

I'm not sure what the point of Friends with Kids is. Is it just another romantic comedy? Or is it an example of how people are social animals that are both awful and predictable, and they raise children to be just like them? Was it supposed to be sweet? I'm still not sure. But if you want to see a movie about love, sex, marriage, babies, and cheating "the system," then this flick will fascinate you too.

The movie, written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt (or Jon Hamm's better half, as she is often known), has a different flavor than most romantic movies that reference biological clocks and gynecologists. It's honest (which is code for edgier and meaner), and seems hell-bent on appealing to the people who are outfitting their children in organic hemp socks while secretly wishing they were living out their own personal version of The Hangover. Westfeldt's character Julie is best friends with Adam Scott's Jason, and they have a circle of friends who are just as hot, successful and sexually crazed as they are. Their friends are also married, but are in the most attractive phase of coupling that is all dinner parties and sex in broom closets. But not for long…

Life happens to all of them: babies are born, enriching their lives with the sound of children's laughter and making them hate each other for taking 45-minute bathroom breaks. Julie and Jason are observing all of this exactly like childless 30-somethings would--with raised eyebrows, quietly mourning the loss of the old days. Sharp best-friend banter over multiple glasses of wine leads them to the decision to do what everyone else did, but in their own way--they decide to have a child while remaining "just friends." This is where I began to distrust them as the Cool People Who Are Going to Do Something I Haven't Seen in a Movie Before that I thought they were. They drank the Kool-Aid and didn't even have the decency to admit it.

(Slight spoilers follow) The movie ends up precisely where any Chick Flick Expert understands it's heading, but getting there is like watching a car accident on the highway. Consciously, you feel bad for the people involved, but there's a part inside you that takes in the carnage and processes it appropriately (which is what I thought our protagonists were doing, but apparently not). Here, the "carnage" comes from their deliciously flawed and filter-less friends. Jon Hamm plays a sharp-tongued drunk and Kristen Wiig is his passive-aggressive wife, sucked dry of all the vitality that she displayed back in the Broom Closet Days. Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd are much better together, but only because O'Dowd is so dopey that his charm gets him out of everything--even though Rudolph's character never lets him off the hook. The friends account for the muscle in the movie, because after Julie and Jason jumped ship, so did I.


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