Played-out plot sinks ‘Friends With Kids’
When a movie touts the fact that it features “the cast of Bridesmaids”, it’s fair to assume it will be funny. Unfortunately Friends With Kids has a played-out and predictable storyline that keeps it from ever living up to the talents of its stars.
Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt (who also wrote and directed the film) are Jason and Julie, successful best friends living the fun, free single life in New York. When their group of friends (the Bridesmaids gang: Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Kristen Wiig, and Jon Hamm) all start having babies, they stop being fulfilled by their fast-paced, freewheeling lives and start craving their own little bundles of joy. Being so progressive and modern, they decide to skip the pains of marriage, fighting over how to raise the kids and possible divorce and give it a go with each other, assuming that two best friends could raise a child better than a married couple who resent each other. This is where an otherwise smart film takes an aggravating turn into sugary, predictable rom-com territory. Of course, as they raise their child, they start to fall in love with each other and it all culminates with a sharp U-turn at a stoplight and a teary-eyed speech, an unfortunate downfall for a film that could have been so much more.
Scott has a unique ability to play characters that are total dicks, yet still appealing and fun. Here he’s perfect in scenes where Jason teases Julie about the horrors of labor, losing her baby weight and when to start having sex again after giving birth. If anyone else said these lines, we would think Jason was a major jerk, but Scott can pull them off and manage to be even more likable.
The whole “cast of Bridesmaids” thing seems like a bad marketing ploy because, not only is the tone of this obnoxiously sweet rom-com a far cry from the quick-witted boldness of Bridesmaids, but that film’s uber-talented cast is hardly the center of attention. In their limited minutes, they bring most of the funniest moments and keep the film from descending into some sort of Kate Hudson/Jennifer Aniston rom-com nightmare, but their scenes are too few and far between to keep that momentum going. Wiig, in particular, is criminally underutilized playing Hamm’s bitter and disenchanted wife.
On top of wasting the talents of some of the funniest people in the business, the film follows such a cliche storyline that you can predict the entire story by the time you’re about thirty seconds in. It’s a disappointment from Westfeldt because it feel like literally anyone could have written this movie. As Larry David once said, “is it art if I could do it?”
Friends With Kids will likely capture a core demo of new moms and married couples, but those looking for a fun, fresh comedy would do best to skip this one.