If not for the predictable and unnecessarily long ending, which includes a sad attempt as creating it’s own R-Rated “you had me at hello” tag line, I might have really liked Friends With Kids.
The movie is the brainchild of beautifully adorable indie actress Jennifer Westfeldt, who wrote, directed and stars as the lead female. (She’s also notably the long term girlfriend of Jon Hamm, who is also in the film.) The story involves a late 30’s couple with a platonic friendship between Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt) who decide they want a child. They don’t want the attachment of marriage to weigh down their relationship, seeing how it’s changed their two pairs of friends for better and worse (Hamm & Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph & Chris O’Dowd.)
Jason and Julie’s strength in friendship and their adult attitude about the situation they’ve chosen for themselves is quite impressive. I really can’t say I know a couple that might be able to pull off their platonic-parenting status, but maybe that’s because the idea seems to be something only the guys in the movie understand. They get the companionship and the family but they also get to sleep with other people.
With the New York setting and the open conversations about the relationship, you can’t help but feel in Woody Allen influence. It was quite entertaining, until they dive into the pool of predictable romance-comedies.
Still, Friends With Kids deserves more credit. The ensemble cast is very strong and believable. The story and tension between the characters is true to life. I liked Scott with the lead role. He’s thought out and engaged in the “now” of the film.
Without being preachy, the film also makes arguments, pro and con about the alternative family situation that’s developed. To my dismay, it ends making a rather traditional decision. That third act is nearly painful to watch. Considering how unusual the relationship between Jason & Julie is, it doesn’t seem believable that they start acting like people do at the end of a typical rom-com.
I didn’t appreciate that and frankly felt a little cheated. It was like getting a present wrapped in a giant box, only to find the gift is actually the size of a coin and not that valuable.