Director: Jennifer Westfeldt
Cast: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd
Running Time: 107 minutes
Release Date: 29 June
Bridesmaids. Let’s get it out of the way. Bridesmaids. Friends with Kids is a comedy that looks like it comes from the production office of one Judd Apatow — it doesn’t in fact, and it stars 50% of what made last year’s masterful tonic to The Hangover so good. This is, however, far from Bridesmaids 2.0.
Drawing heavily from personal experiences shared with her co-star, co-producer and partner, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Westfeldt has crafted an at times intelligent and funny examination of the burden children can bring upon mid-to-late thirty-year-olds and the American family model. Westfeldt and Adam Scott play two best friends, who having seen the damaging effect that having kids has had on their friends, decided to have a kid themselves. Be it as a social experiment or a big “fuck you” to their friends who have abandoned their wanderlust lifestyle, we never know.
Despite its ensemble cast — its Bridesmaids stars are rounded out by Megan Fox and, interestingly, Edward Burns — Friends with Kids primarily sticks with Westfeldt and Scott, probably to its detriment. Scott in particular is hard to like, his self-celebrating emotional void and desire for all women to look like a cocaine atrophied Katy Perry make him, well, a dick. Satisfyingly, his finest scene involves nappy changing and what The Thick Of It commander-in-vulgarity Malcolm Tucker would describe as “arse spraying mayhem”.
In limited time, Jon Hamm — The Greatest Man On Earth™ — enjoys all the best moments and lines. His bile-spitting speech at the film’s centerpiece dinner conversation brings the absurd reality of the film’s premise down like a house of a cards. In fact, you can only help but wonder how the film would have played out if he and on-screen spouse Kristen Wiig were the top billing.
For all its faults, Friends with Kids announces another new female voice in the Hollywood landscape. Westfeldt has joined Wiig, Tina Fey and most recently Lena Dunham in skipping the wait for good roles and forging them on their own. At its core, she has crafted something that can ask some important questions and goes some way to making statements about the family nucleus, primarily that parents caring for their kids trumps whatever relationship they may now have. Its submission to the worst pitfalls of the rom-com genre nullifies that message some, and halts its escalation to the pantheon of truly intelligent comedies.