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Friends With Kids

Friends with Kids

Jennifer Westfeldt’s directorial debut, Friends with Kids, is a lighthearted romantic comedy with an indie sensibility striving to be something just a bit more but, inevitably, falling to all of the third act clichés that plague most romantic comedies.  A film basically about the way our relationships change when kids enter the picture, the film is charming if a little guileless and confused in thematic content.  The film follows a group of friends, all in different stages in their relationships and how they morph and change once they have kids.

The core of the film follows two best friends, played by Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott, who decide to have a kid together without all of the mess associated with it like a relationship or marriage.  The rest of the ensemble is filled out with alumni from Bridesmaids – Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Kristen Wiig, and Jon Hamm – a group of friends who end up having kids and, in effect, provide the best case for how having kids effects and strains romantic relationships.  Westfeldt and Scott’s characters’ platonic relationship works out pretty well until each strike out on their own romantic relationships with Edward Burns and Megan Fox, respectively.

It is here that the beats of the romantic comedy are hit note for note but the script and performances around it are strong enough to keep things afloat.  Scott shows a real powerhouse performance here mixing up the more dramatic aspects of the character with the comedic side with ease and aplomb.  Hamm is also given a very strong scene during a New Years Eve dinner that shows the high minded themes that are at work behind the romantic comedy gloss but, unfortunately, it is at this point that the film turns its mind against this aspect and goes towards the inevitable conclusion of Westfeldt and Scott getting together in the end.

Their relationship and chemistry holds the film together but the film seems very strident against the face of a more traditional family but it seems, in the end, Westfeldt sides with a more traditional form of family but we are never really given a reason why as it seems to only be because it is expected of the couple to get together rather than it coming naturally from the themes or the story being told.  The film falls into a pattern that smacks in the face of what it seems to want to try but though there are indie sensibilities at play here, the film really wants to be another romantic comedy, and in the end, whether for good or ill, ultimately succeeds.

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