Film Review: Friends With Kids


   Jennifer Westerfeldt makes her debut as a writer-director in Friends With Kids in which she also stars. The premise is simple - she and her best friend Jason (Adam Scott) are platonic friends who, upon seeing their peers marry and have babies, decide to have a go at pro-creating and raising a child together whilst remaining just as friends to each other. What is much harder to describe is what Westerfeldt must have been thinking when she made this film which is so sadly lacking in heart, human empathy, warmth, humour, intelligence or insight.
   Jason begins the film in bed with yet another one night stand - what women see in him is never made clear but it certainly can not be his personality as he is as narcissistic, warm and charming as Henry Kissinger; he is a man whose interests appear to extend no further than himself and objectifying women from a detached and superior stand point. The only sign that Adam has anything deep about his character is that next to his bed their is a copy of the book The God Delusion - a heavy tome for someone who shows no sign of passion for anything outside of misogyny. His phone rings, despite the early hour, and it is his friend (Westerfeldt) probing him kookily about the wacky ways he would prefer to die if giving the option between two overly zany outcomes. This is the establishing scene which aims to show the two are great friends with winning senses of humour. Instead, all we learn at this early stage is how unlikable the gruesome pair are and that it is impossible for the average person to relate to these self obsessed, navel gazing, oleaginous, mucilaginous, gelatinous leads. That they then go on to judge everyone around them for the rest of the film, fellow patrons, their friend's and their friend's relationships, makes little sense when it appears clear they both need to take long hard looks at themselves in the mirror.
   Once the pair's friends all marry off and have children the two decide to make a go of raising their own child. To them it is the perfect fit. They both would like children but without the attachment of a partner - he as a commitment-phobe and she as a lady who seems to struggle in the few relationships she has. Forgoing the turkey baster they decide to have sex and, lo and behold, the idea they could do this without falling for each other seems more and more ridiculous. From this point forward the two battle backwards and forwards with their feelings for each other in a series of events that it is as exhausting as it is banal.
   Friends With Kids is a film in which everything is wrong. The characters are all incredibly repulsive and there is nothing or nobody to root for. Scott, an incredibly likable every-man in the TV show Parks and Recreation, is as detestable as Woody Allen at his most narcissistic and  pompous but without the jokes to redeem him; instead Jason has the sole character trait of liking "big tits". Westerfeldt casts herself in a role so inherently needy it is possible to imagine that even Jennifer Aniston would have baulked at the script. The screenplay itself is not as edgy as it would like to be, in fact the narrative is pretty much the central crux of even the most formulaic Hollywood movie, and finding humour in this film all depends on your taste for jokes about the elasticity of vaginas. As much as this film would like to be When Harry Met Sally... it falls some way short of this mark as Westerfeldt manages to be neither a Rob Reiner behind camera or a Meg Ryan in front of it and Adam Scott falls someway short of a performance like Billy Crystal's.
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4 comments

  1. I really wanted to like this film but it was just so...empty and horribly stereotypical. That's an hour and a half I'll never get back!

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    1. Aye - I had really high hopes going in and i still can't figure out how it was quite as bad as it was!

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