Paul Kampf’s Best Fake Friends is one of two movies opening this week about the dangers of peer pressure and conformity, neither of which feel like definitive state- ments on the subjects. Joy (Lauren Bowles) is a writer and mother of two who follows her husband’s latest career relocation to Portland, where she finds her way into the local mean-girl clique headed up by Nikki (Victoria Smurfit). Intoxicated by finally fitting in, she gives into Nikki’s lifestyle of hedonism and superficiality, to the detriment of her family and her own soul. But Joy’s transformation never quite scans, and a more interesting story attempt to revitalize her journalism career is established in the first act and then ignored beyond using her blog to provide voice-over narration. Best Fake Friends also makes a point of establishing its setting, down to the famous sign requesting the retention of local weirdness, but does nothing interesting with the location. Still, more films about the lives of women who are past the ingénue years are desperately needed — but can we please call for a moratorium of movies by male directors with female casts in which two of the characters hook up in scenes catering to the men in the audience? If Paul Feig doesn’t need to resort to that, neither do you.
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