Friends With Kids Reviews
Comparing the complications of love and children
As movie houses are to want; two apparently similar movies have once again been conveniently released 'coincidentally' around the same time to battle it out for box office supremacy. Rather than producing tedious back to back reviews about the trials and tribulations of pending parenthood; just like these films, one would suffice.
What to expect when you're expecting
"Loosely based" on Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel's best-selling pregnancy manual of the same title, What to expect when you're expecting is yet another ensemble-comedy rip-off of 2003's Love Actually. For a hint of originality, instead of focusing on a particular annual event (like Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve) this time producers gleefully cash in on the public's fascination with celebrity child-rearing and the everyday woes of pregnancy.
Director Kick James takes a satirical crisscrossed look at five stereotyped 'mommies' experiencing the burdens of hemorrhoids, incontinence and cankles during the nine month period of human gestation.
The expecting ladies in question; Breast Choice baby boutique owner, Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) has been desperately trying to get pregnant for two years, but once she is she struggles to maintain a shred of grace as the growing life that expected to make her 'glow' runs havoc with her bodily functions resulting in a miserable and flatulent wife-from-hell for her ever supportive biggest-loser husband Gary (Ben Falcone).
Not to be outdone, Gary's competitive ex-race car driving father, Ramsey's (Dennis Quaid) twenty-something trophy-wife, Skyler (Brooklyn Decker) is not only picture-perfect and bikini-clad carrying twins but also unjustly side-effect free.
C-Grade celebrity reality-TV health guru, Jules (Cameron Diaz) faces a career killing decision between family and fitness after shacking up with her Dancing with the stars partner Evan (Matthew Morrison) to securing viewer votes but resulting in getting her in the family way.
Food-Truck retailer, Rosie (Anna Kendrick) engages in a one night drunken dalliance with an old high school crush come recent rival travelling chef, Marco (Chase Crawford) leaving her also with a bun in the oven and them on new romantic grounds.
While Anne Geddes style photographer Holly (Jennifer Lopez) begins the arduously long process of adopting her own bundle of joy from Ethiopia, but when prompt results means the little one will arrive within just weeks her apprehensive husband, Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) is less than prepared and to gain perspective resorts to attending a "dude's club".
The candid daddy-pack (populated by comedians Chris Rock, Rob Huebel, Thomas Lennon, Amir Talai and Joe Manganiello) provides real insight into the traps and dangers of so-called bad parenting; from kids swimming in toilets to eating cigarettes, the offer the novice father a reassuring lifeline.
Although suffering a little from a generic script, lackluster direction and tonal spiking, there are some genuinely relatable moments that actually work. One particular story is, despite all odds, legitimately moving whilst a tiny cameo from our own Rebel Wilson provides expected crassness.
Friends with Kids
In her first writing/directing/starring effort since 2001's Kissing Jessica Stein, Jennifer Westfeldt delivers a nicely executed rare combination of romance and humor situated in a cleaver premise with an impressively talented ensemble cast.
Seemingly deviating from the usual; couple meet, fall in love, struggle with a hard situation then ultimately live a happy ending, this sharp and witty comedy poses intriguing social experiment questions about alternative parenting with timely relevance to modern society but eventually succumbs to tradition.
Thirty-something Manhattanities Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) aren't a couple. After twenty years of platonic friendship on opposite ends of the romantic spectrum; the duo know everything there is to know about one another, including that they would both like to have children but without the complication of a significant partner.
Warily observing the deterioration of their two sets of best friend's marriages; down-to-earth Brooklynites Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O'Dowd) have a cutesy tit-for-tat naturally mocking banter whilst the sexually driven Missy (Kristen Wiig) and Ben (John Hamm) simply can't keep cool under the collar, the introduction of children simply drains them of life, lust and likeability.
Sidestepping these pitfalls of resentment and the inevitable marriage decline, Julie and Jason come up with a better plan to fulfill their desire for procreation, each other. Agreeing to have a baby together as friends, split the child-rearing duties 50/50 whilst continuing to date other people, they believe that without being romantically linked they can avoid ending up as miserable as their friends.
Confounding everyone, their alternating-evening jealousy-free arrangement actually works. Jason meets his physical no-strings attached ideal in the stunning Broadway dancer Maryjane (Megan fox) while Julie finds sensitive Mr. Perfect single-dad Kurt (Edward burns). But when the eight friends share a snowy New Year's Vermont escape some personal questions are raised that hit a little close to home.
Can raising a child with one person and finding companionship and passion in another really result in a smoother life? Or does it hold its own set of complications?
Westfeldt and Scott do share a believable chemistry, however Westfeldt's natural vulnerability leaves her character insipid while Scott's flitting between a jerky emotional-ameba and compassionate white-knight is frustratingly plot contrived.
Woefully underutilized, Wiig, Ham, Rudolph and O'Dowd's compelling and highly relatable characters never get the chance to engage as the director's agenda to convince viewers that each generation is innovative in their belief that they have some unprecedented insight into how to make life perfect results in yet another formulaic indie film.
The Verdict: In the end these movies are extremely different. WTEWYE is a light-hearted and unashamedly superficial comedy that broaches some of the less-sensitive topics about conceiving, delivering, adopting, and raising children; while Friends with kids is a more mature and heart-felt dramady exploring the concept of the alternative-family and weather platonic love must inevitably evolve to meet social convention.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 15/06/2012
but I love it because I'm so into stories like friends become lovers. :)
Despite all this, Jennifer Westfeldt's comedy is a sweet little start to the new year. She and Adam Scott are great and there are plenty of laughs.