Don’t Want to be ‘Friends’

Courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment

In the past few years, comedies focusing on the lives of 30-somethings still grappling with the idea of living as grown-ups have gained huge recognition with audiences. The perfect mixture of raunchy humor, frankness and tenderness are what made films like “Bridesmaids” and “Knocked Up” fan favorites destined to become classics.

On the surface, “Friends with Kids” appears to be destined to reach the same caliber and gain the same loving recognition, but poor handling of the premise and wasting a highly talented cast proves to be the demise of such a potentially promising film.

“Friends with Kids” is written, produced and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, who also stars as one of the title characters. Westfeldt is perhaps known best for starring in and writing the independent romantic comedy “Kissing Jessica Stein,” which was released to critical acclaim in 2001.

The film focuses on a pair of best friends, Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott), who witness the strain that parenthood puts on the relationships and personalities of their married friends. Julie hears the tick of her biological clock, and she and Jason both decide to sleep with each other to conceive a child and split the responsibility of raising it while remaining platonic best friends in order to prevent the unhappiness that comes from being married and raising a newborn.

Things go perfectly fine in the beginning, but of course, the plan starts to fall apart when Julie and Jason both find steady romantic partners. The rest of the movie soon becomes rather easy to figure out.

The first 15 minutes of the film hold the promise of a unique plot and lots of laughs, but quickly falls flat. We are introduced to Jason and Julie’s friends, the kind of close-knit group any young adult wishes they were a part of. The couples Missy and Ben (Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm) and Leslie and Alex (Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd) are portrayed by comedic masters, and this critic couldn’t wait to see how they would supplement the film.

However, the couples are quickly shunted to the side and shown only as props for the idea that kids are life-ruiners and personality-changers in the worst possible way.

The superbly talented Wiig probably has about six lines throughout the entire movie, and her character is often seen crying on the side. Rudolph and O’Dowd manage to steal the meager scenes they’re in, and do a rather great job considering the material they were given.

Scott and Westfeldt both perform well as Julie and Jason, but the stilted writing and overload of clichés turn a promising premise into a painfully predictable and annoyingly drawn out mess of a film.

There are no scenes in “Friends with Kids” that will go down in pop culture history, no one-line zingers and certainly no specific unique aspect that sets it apart from any other Harry and Sally-esque rom-com out there.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5