"Friends with Kids": Traditional Rom-Com Takes No Risks

Best friends since college, Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) witness the misery that seems to dominate the lives of their wedded pals who have babies — Leslie and Alex (Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd), and Missy and Ben (Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm, Westfeldt's longtime partner). So close that they call each other up at 4 a.m. to compare notes on the one-night stands sleeping beside them, the two late-thirtyish chums, who live in the same rent-stabilized Upper West Side apartment building, decide to make a kid the old-fashioned way — a one-time-only act — and raise him together while remaining uncoupled and pursuing other bedmates. This unconventional arrangement will resolve conventionally, of course, as per the immutable laws of romantic comedy, which regard single adults as scourges to be cured. But further hobbling the march to the inevitable that stunts Friends with Kids — Westfeldt's directorial debut and her third film as writer-producer-star — is the frequently weak dialogue and forced character epiphanies. Even more to its detriment, Friends with Kids will remind you of the cast's earlier efforts, namely Westfeldt's uneven but still tart and precise Kissing Jessica Stein (2001) and Bridesmaids. The four battle-weary parents in FWK are played by actors from that broad studio comedy, which nonetheless conveyed hilarious insight into the horrors of parenting, living single, and settling down — qualities missing from Westfeldt's small-scale, "indie-personal" film.

 
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