Normally we here at CineNiche have standards, but on this particular day we were roped into this one. Jennifer Westfeldt wrote, directed, and stared in this slightly amusing rom-com that offers you and hour and a half of fulfilled expectations.
The moment Friends With Kids starts you already know the end, and as usual the perfectly acceptable retort to this type of film is that it is all about the journey. The only trouble with stock answers is that they normally come attached to sub par films.
The journey Friends With Kids offers is the very American institution of monogamy. From the offset we have two best friends who sleep around in an attempt to find, "the one," this is not their fault because popular culture dictates that soulmates exist so we cannot foul them for their search. What comes next is the fundamental flaw of having a child - not that child rearing is a flaw but the instilled notion that it is what one is supposed to do, is. Having not yet acquired a perfect mate the friends decide to create a child thus allowing them offspring while searching for "the one."
Even if up to this point you are still buying into the premise, then you want what we all do while watching, we want to see them fail. Not only fail at obtaining someone significant, but fail as parents as well. Had Westfeldt taken a few cues from Todd Solondz we would have had an interesting film indeed.
Friends With Kids as directed by Todd Solondz: Jason Fryman (Adam Scott) would have been a repressed homosexual while Julie Keller (Jennifer Westfeldt) a secret heroine user. They have a baby - a girl with down syndrome. Jason is brutally stabbed on his way home and left paralyzed. Julie attempts to stay clean to raise the baby and take care of Jason, but when it gets to be too much she goes to get a fix. She leaves Ben (Jon Hamm) to watch the baby and Jason. While away and with Jason asleep Ben molests the infant. Jason awakens to the baby screaming and Ben explains that the baby must be sick. Ben brings the baby in and she calms down. Jason then initiates a sexual advance to which Ben accepts. Later when Julie comes back with her fix, Ben leaves and she does a dose which kills her. Jason wakes up again to a screaming baby and a dead girlfriend unable to do anything about either. A classy comedy - only slightly cliche.
Unfortunately in Westfeldts uninspired comedy we are given only cliche via a strong yearning for indie street cred. One would hope that Ed Burns, Myah Rudolph, Jon Hamm, and Kristen Wiig would have been able to elevate this film at least to par level, but alas this is not the case. Megan Fox was the only actor present with nothing to loose. Once again, she plays an insipid debutante and she does so with such conviction it's hard to determine where her onscreen persona ends and her real 'self' begins.
Do yourself a favor and choose this film when your only choices are Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, or Friends With Kids. We do believe that Jennifer Westfeldt is wonderful, it is just this film that falls flat.