Friends with Kids

Directed By: Jennifer Westfeldt

Starring: Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Megan Fox, and Edward Burns

I cannot write this review without a nod to Bridesmaids.  After all, a good portion of the cast of Friends with Kids consists of Bridesmaids alumni: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm and Chris O’Dowd.  But aside from the fact that both films are funny as hell, that is pretty much where the similarities end.  Whereas Bridesmaids was more of a slapstick, in your face type of comedy, Friends with Kids is more of a smart adult romantic comedy (i.e. not Katherine Heigl rom com material).

Friends with Kids is the story of Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) who are lifelong best friends.  (Sidebar: Scott is one of my favorite characters on the awesome but totally underrated show Parks and Recreation and the evil brother from Stepbrothers).  They are a part of a group of six attractive thirty something friends living the good life in Manhattan.   At the start of the film, Julie and Jason are happily single, Ben (Hamm) and Missy (Wiig) are passionately in lust and Leslie (Rudolph) and Alex (O’Dowd) are the sweet, but still on the scene married couple.  They are all young, prosperous and free…until the couples start having kids.

Once Leslie, Alex, Ben and Missy are saddled with kids, they move to Brooklyn and trade fancy dinners at expensive restaurants with dinners at the house while the kids are asleep.   The toll raising kids takes on both relationships is serious.  For Leslie and Alex, it is the normal stuff.  Leslie does everything.  Alex pretty much does only what he is told to do—which leads to nagging, frustration and Alex looking like a deer caught in headlights.  Ben and Missy have descended to the mean-spirited fights in front of others that cause awkward silences.  Jason and Julie are horrified at what their friends have become.  They never want to be those people.

They decide that the system is flawed.  When you find “the person” and then have a child, all of a sudden, the child becomes the most important thing.  You love the new little stranger more than you love your significant other.  So Julie and Jason decide to reverse it.  They have a baby with each other, without romantic entanglements, so they can get the child part of their life out of the way, freeing them to go out and meet the loves of their lives.   Of course, you cannot have a child with someone you already love as a friend and then expect the dynamic to remain the same.  The situation naturally becomes complicated.  The film follows how these friends with kids navigate their new “relationship.”

Written and directed by Westfeldt, Friends with Kids is a delightful look at the transition from life before kids to life after kids.  Westfeldt hits just the right pitch and captures the chaos that comes with little ones and how children alter romantic relationships because so much time is spent just managing the children.  The characters are rich and relatable, there are a number of laugh-out-loud moments, and the chemistry between the friends is genuine.     

Although the entire cast does an amazing job, O’Dowd was a standout for me.  He played the straight man in Bridesmaids.  But in Friends with Kids he shines as Rudolph’s nice, but hopelessly boyish husband.  O’Dowd literally steals almost every scene he is in.  Wiig also shows that she has acting chops beyond her considerable comedic skills, and can take the dramatic turn as well.

As a married mother of a two year old, at times I felt like I was watching my life onscreen.  I thoroughly enjoyed Friends with Kids.  I cannot give it a sober rating because like many comedies, the first half of the film was funnier than the second half. But, I would recommend checking it out and maybe kicking back with a Bacardi Breezer while you enjoy the laughs.