Friends with Kids review

Friends with Kids is the directorial debut from Jennifer Westfeldt, and it shares quite a few qualities with Kissing Jessica Steyn, which she wrote in 2001. Both of these movies are harmless and rather funny comedies that are emotionally satisfying. In this new movie she takes a different twist on the marriage and parenting genre and rethinks fidelity as a conventional notion. At its most basic level the movie examines why fidelity exists at all. Unfortunately while the movie starts well it drifts into a predictable and lethargic film as it develops.

The movie follows two best friends, Julie and Jason. As singles, they wonder why their friends are struggling with raising children and being married, and believe that they can do a better job of it. Both of these people want to have children but they do not want to be married. An interesting solution to their problem is that they decide to have a child together, share the custody of the child, but not engage in a relationship together.

Of course, as you would expect from the movie, this works well at first, but predictably they develop stronger feelings for each other. The film has a genuinely good start and the unusual situation that the characters are in is amusing and draws the audience in. Westfeldt makes the audience consider whether it is necessary for a couple to be monogamous for a family is to succeed and be happy. While this is an interesting notion, the film drags it out and makes it somewhat disappointing.

The film definitely slides as it continues, however, this slide is quite enjoyable. You are well aware that the movie is losing steam and becoming less interesting, but the interactions between the characters on the screen mean that the film is still quite pleasant to watch. The cast does an excellent job, but many of them are under-utilised, such as Chris O’Dowd who plays Alex.

It is the two main characters, one of whom is played by Westfeldt herself, which really keep the film going. The fantastic chemistry between the two characters means that they really persuade the audience that the love they share for one another is as deep as any monogamous couple, if not perhaps deeper.

The comedy is well done generally and there are appropriately vulgar jokes and the comic timing of the entire movie is very good. Unfortunately though, the plot and the general writing let the movie down, and there is only so much that the comedy can do to hold it up. Friends with Kids starts with such a great deal of promise and energy, and rather than maintaining it throughout the film it falls into a comfortable, inoffensive, but still enjoyable second half.

It is the end of the movie that really lets it down. After the incredibly disappointing ending of Kissing Jessica Stein it is unfortunate to see that Westfeldt has made the same mistake again. The conclusion involves declarations of love, which painfully predictable.