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Despite inconsistent acting, ‘Friends with Kids’ succeeds

Published: March 16, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.


Friendships between men and women are complicated to say the least, but bring a kid into the equation and you’ll see how complicated things can be. “Friends With Kids,” directed by Jennifer Westfeldt (also the film’s writer and star) is a romantic comedy that reveals in great detail the experience of having a baby.
Best friends Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) understand each other perfectly. They live in different apartments in the same building and know each other’s darkest secrets. It appears to be a perfect friendship: They have late night conversations about the best ways to die and whether or not they would want the love of their life to have a terminal disease. They are both single and have a happy life. It all seems to be going well until they realize how much their friends have changed after having kids and how much their marriages have suffered. they then come to the decision that kids ruin romance and drunkenly decide to have a baby together.
In theory, since they are best friends and have agreed to split equally the commitments and responsibilities that come with raising a child, the having-a-baby-together idea is reasonable. The actual baby-making, however, presents some complications. Julie complains of feeling like she’s kissing her brother and she constantly apologizes for not having the body type that Jason appreciates. After a couple of uncomfortable giggles, Julie and Jason manage to get the job done. Despite their friends’ opinions, Julie gets pregnant and they have an adorable baby boy.
The cast also includes Megan Fox, who plays the role of Jason’s girlfriend but she doesn’t look quite as beautiful as usual. Maybe it’s because of the fact that her name is Mary Jane; that she’s playing a self-centered Broadway dancer who distracts Jason from the lovely Julie; or that she’s much too into herself these days. Truth be told, it feels like they have exhausted the Megan Fox related dirty jokes. Yes, she’s beautiful. We know that. Regardless, there are many other talented actresses (some of whom have also starred together in “Bridesmaids”) who do a surprisingly good job.
Also part of the cast are Jason and Julie’s friends (two married couples with kids) who inspire their no-to-marriage but yes-to-kids idea. Jon Hamm plays the role of Ben, Missy’s (Kristen Wiig) not very nice husband. Although Missy and Ben used to have a lot of fun together before having kids, the tension builds up between them as the movie progresses and we see Missy crying more than a few times. There is also Maya Rudolph, who plays the role of Leslie, and Chris O’Dowd as Alex. Their acting is slightly more convincing than some of the other stars, and they have some of the funniest moments. Let’s just say that Alex is proud of the fact that he takes a sandwich and his computer with him every time he goes to the bathroom. Finally, there is Edward Burns in the role of Kurt, Julie’s very handsome boyfriend. Although most of the time we see only James and Julie, since the plot is centered on them, these extra characters are nonetheless very well-developed and extremely well-played.
Even though the film may scare some newlyweds out of having kids (at least for a little while), I have it on good authority that for those who have already gone through the experience, the movie is very funny and entertaining. How could it be anything less than hilarious with scenes that include a diarrhea-covered Jason and lengthy discussions on the topic of vaginal elasticity?
All in all, Westfeldt and Scott play their parts brilliantly. I do have to mention, however, that whatever it was that Westfeldt did to her face (whether it be Botox, a facelift or cheek implants) is not working for her. When she speaks or smiles, her upper lip looks so strange that it’s hard to concentrate on what she’s saying. Not that it takes any credibility from her as an actress, a writer or a director—being the triple threat that she is—but it’s a shame she felt that her face needed an improvement. After all, she is quite naturally beautiful. Scott, on the other hand, is fantastically funny and talented. He has learned to play the sweet guy to perfection, but the role of bad boy who has uncountable one-night stands is not at all ill-suited. Not to give too much away, but his last scene is adorable and funny.
“Friends With Kids” is the not the typical romantic-comedy but, then again, it’s not supposed to be. There is romance and there is comedy, but just the right mix of the two. It is perfectly entertaining—even if slightly predictable—and it makes the audience both laugh and cry. In the end we learn that friendship and babies probably shouldn’t mix, but that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting to see what happens when they do. As Ben puts it, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Or, as this movie explores, can you?