Written and Directed by: Jennifer Westfeldt Starring: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Chris O'Dowd, Megan Fox and Ed Burns
After the colossal success of Bridesmaids seeing a cast with the pedigree of Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd and John Hamm in a comedic film - makes you immediately more optimistic about its prospects. Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) are best friends in their late 30s who both want children, and yet the chaos of their friends parenting experience (Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Chris O'Dowd) and veritable relationship ruin has put them off the idea. They decide to circumvent the bad times by having a child together and remaining friends to share the responsibility without the 'couple issues'. What seems to be your run of the mill romantic comedy, surrounding a pretty contrived parenting experiment becomes a catalyst to ask broader questions about friendship, love and modern interpretations of what a family 'is'.
The real vitality of Friends with Kids is where writer and debut director Westfeldt chooses to get the friends together and let the characters interact and clash. It's an album of snapshots of the friendship group that catalogues where they are in their lives and relationships. Westfeldt has an offbeat (writers) voice that revels in long dialogue and conversation scenes in their entirety. There's not just the sit-com set-up and punchline format for the jokes; Westfeldt has funny characters speaking authentically of the harsh reality of parenthood. It's so refreshing in the wake of something like What to expect to see a group of cinematic friends that have a tangible and organic chemistry. Wiig, Hamm, Rudolph and O'Dowd show their relationships in such an unscrupulous manner. The brutal self-effacing honesty differentiates and separates Kids with a slew of its generic brethren.
This is a crisp collection of performances that fill out their characters to make them feel like real people. The leads were solid but the standouts for me were Rudolph, O'Dowd, Hamm and a much more serious Wiig than you're expecting, which was all the more surprising and impressive.
Friends with Kids is as satisfying as rom-coms get. It's sharply scripted, populated with authentic and likeable characters and takes instinctive turns toward and away from cliché that keep you on your toes.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman
Freinds with Kids is released in Australia on the 7th of June 2012, in the U.S.A on the 9th of March 2012 and in the U.K on the 29 June 2012.