Friends With Kids
Directed by Jennifer Westfeldt
When did romantic comedies become so mean-spirited and cruel? Things are so dire that even Friends With Kids, from writer Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein, making her directorial debut), is hardly better than the annual misogynistic Katherine Heigl romp, and at least those don't delude themselves that they're saying anything of any great profundity.
Formula is bad enough—and Friends hits every step on the Robert McKee program—but the way this film substitutes insults for jokes and venom for warmth makes it shockingly unpleasant to sit through. What can you say about a movie so cynical about romance that the big tender speech at the end is literally, "Just let me fuck the shit out of you and see if you're still not interested?"
Westfeldt and Adam Scott star as long-time platonic besties who are the only marriage and baby holdouts in their circle, a fact they revel in as friends (Jon Hamm/Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph/Chris O'Dowd) drown in a sea of diapers and sexless marital strife that manifests as bitter hatred. But then, in a bit of narrative whiplash, they exclaim that of course they both want a little one of their own, and with biological clocks ticking why not have it together?
Friends makes the questionable claim that it's less stressful to raise a child and keep a neat house and social life when the parents don't cohabitate. But then of course jealously develops as each find dates (Edward Burns and Megan Fox, who steals the show) and feelings arise, though at different times. Meanwhile the others have toxic relationships for reasons bereft of insight into dating or parenting; anyone looking for Bridesmaids redux will come out shell-shocked.
Just imagine what Nicole Holofcener could have done with this premise, or this cast. The supporting actors are underused or one-dimensional, and Scott, so charming on TV, is helpless against squirm-inducing dialogue about big tits or post-labor vaginal stretchiness. Say what you will about Judd Apatow, at least his films view immaturity as something to be overcome, not the main feature of a character's supposed charm. This is the kind of relationship comedy that makes you consider finding a monastery. After it ended I was so put out I went to a bar and just got lit.
Opens March 9