Starring: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, John Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Chris O’Dowd
Running Time: 102 minutes
Extras: ‘Making Friends With Kids’, blooper reels, audio commentary
2011 was a landmark year: Egyptian revolution, Bin Laden found, and women were allowed to be funny. BRIDESMAIDS garnered rave reviews for its fresh and hilarious cast of women (plus a killer Jon Hamm cameo), but in doing so has started what will surely be a cascade of unfunny BRIDESMAIDS knock-offs. Not a complete carbon copy as such, but featuring many of the same cast members, FRIENDS WITH KIDS – directed, written by, and starring Jennifer Westfeldt – doesn’t quite fit into the category of unfunny, instead shuffling past it.
Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason (Scott) are best friends; mid-thirties and single they grow tired of their respective frigid and gigolo lifestyles. Parental instincts take hold and they decide to have a baby together, whilst remaining just friends, thus becoming the titular FRIENDS WITH KID(S). Their pals – including John Hamm, Kristen Wiig, and Chris O’Dowd – (who also have kids) think they are crazy and that their plan will never work. Before long they are proved right.
It’s hard to look at FRIENDS WITH KIDS as anything other than average fare and it’s impossible to feel any vitriol towards the movie, but when the funniest thing is a badly performed accent, you know you’re in trouble: Chris O’Dowd’s New York/Irish/god knows accent is the comic highlight in a film that runs out of steam 35-minutes in. The cast try their best: Adam Scott does that Adam Scott thing, Westfeldt is fine, but John Hamm and Kristen Wiig as a bickering couple are wasted (Hamm is Westfeldt’s real-life partner and his role seems to be added because of this). There are moments of genuine humour but after the first act they fade away. Westfeldt has also overdone the screenplay slightly with a couple of long passages of inane chatter and shouting.
With a lot of talent wasted – including Edward Burns and Megan Fox – FRIENDS WITH KIDS is a case of ‘what might have been’. You get the feeling a Seth Rogen, or Judd Apatow could have come up with a much better movie. And they would have probably called it KNOCKED UP…
Extras: Making Friends With Kids gives an insight into how each of the main players in the film are good friends – and confirms what a hero John Hamm is. The two blooper reels are a chance for the actors to improvise and the kids to be little brats. The audio commentary is fun but not essential.