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Friends with Kids - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Friends with Kids
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B
Editing: B-

Friends with Kids has a rather unusual, if ultimately rather predictable, premise: Two best friends, who happen to be opposite sex, decide to have a kid together -- but not to be together. Never mind how unusual (and, honestly, unrealistic) it is for a straight man and a straight couple to be that close and have no sexual attraction. As presented here, it actually makes for a pretty entertaining movie.

There are many reasons for this, not least of which is a supporting cast with four people from Bridesmaids: Kristin Wiig and John Hamm as one pair of straight-couple friends, and Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd (this time masking his Irish accent with an American one) as another pair of straight-couple friends. And there's also Jennifer Westfeldt, who not only stars as the great-haired female best friend, but who both directed and wrote the movie. She directs with a tender hand -- it made me cry in appropriately emotional places, in any case -- but honestly doesn't do quite as good a job with the writing.

This movie doesn't have a huge number of flaws, but easily one of them is believability. Not so much with the married couples, who are happily childless at the beginning of the film but turn into fairly miserable parents soon enough -- and it's all familiar enough to most of our true-life experiences, at least with friends if not with ourselves, that it's not always the most pleasant thing to watch. (Wiig, so funny in Bridesmaids, is not given a whole lot to do here -- she does a great job with what little she's given to work with, but she's not particularly hilarious.) But it all revolves around Westfeldt and Adam Scott as the straight best friends, who decide they want to have their cake and eat it too: have a child, but not have it kill the romance, because they aren't romantic to begin with. In what world?

Okay, sure, maybe in the real world there is some example of this happening. But in Westfeldt's world, it's fodder for comedy -- usually effective, admittedly -- that ultimately just underscores the fallacy of their thinking. It's no spoiler to say that it's clear from the beginning that's the end this movie is working toward, and it never quite rings true.

That said, the deceptive contrivances in the story here are not so blatant as to keep Friends with Kids from being entertaining. On the contrary, it zips along with comedic zest nearly the entire time, with really never a dull moment. I got plenty of laughs, and the laughs, interspersed with a few tears, were pretty consistent to the end.

But the end: it sort of comes out of nowhere. Most stories bother with a bit of a winding-down once the resolution to clear conflict occurs. Here the main characters finally have the emotional breakthrough we all knew was coming, and -- bam! the credits start rolling. Whaa? I would have at least liked an epilogue scene in which we see the rest of their friends enjoying this turn of events. It felt like there should have been at least a little more story, and there was none. Honestly I would have liked Friends with Kids a lot more if it were not for the mystifying, abrupt ending. Maybe Westfeldt had another movie project she had to go work on.

Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt play host to FRIENDS WITH KIDS.

Overall: B
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