Friends with Kids

Look at this poster. Look at the cast of Bridesmaids looking sexy but inherently funny. Look at the words almost as big as the title announcing that Friends with Kids is the ‘funniest film of its kind since Bridesmaids’. This statement would be true if say, no other films had been made since Bridesmaids, or if ‘of its kind’ meant films with Kristen Wiig in them. ‘A film with Kristen Wiig since Bridesmaids’ is probably the quote they should have used.

The poster and the trailer work very hard to convince you this is going to be a hilarious romp through life-after-the-wedding with the cast of Bridesmaids. This is a horrible lie. Despite the Bridesmaids team being the main draw of Friends with Kids, they get very little airtime. They just pop occasionally into the lives of our leads and look increasingly depressed.

Six bestest chums live in Manhattan being trendy and sexy and in the case of Westfelt, literally filled with Botox; couples Missy and Ben (Wiig and Hamm) and Alex and Leslie (O’Dowd and Rudolf) and TOTALLY PLATONIC BFFs Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Westfelt) (Oh God, I wonder what’s going to happen to them??!!).

Cut to four years after Alex and Leslie announce they’re pregnant and both couple’s marriages are in tatters. In an attempt to save themselves from such a fate but still have children, Jason and Julie decide to have a baby and remain romantically unattached and date other people. The rest of the film is spent exploring how this unconventional parenting technique works out and the answer is – basically fine. It’s glaringly apparent that it’s going to be basically fine, so we spend two hours waiting for two characters
that we don’t really care about but don’t mind looking at to inevitably get together.

Julie and Jason are apparently unaffected by parenthood and blithely carry on dating other people and being BFFs. They’re more excited and emotionally attached to their espresso machine than their child or each other until OUT OF NOWHERE they realize (at different times – cue drama) that they’re deeply in love. This is all fine, pointless and nonsensical but fine, unlike the lives of their married friends, which are slowly collapsing around them. This makes for a film with a silly, unemotional, unbelievable rom-com trotting through the middle, wrapped in a side plot of harrowing gritty drama.

The idea of Friends with Kids is simple enough as a ‘funny yet poignant’ look at marriage and family life. Unfortunately it fails hopelessly at being either, and just trudges miserably on, too inherently sad to be funny, too attractive to be poignant, until you want to rip out your own reproductive organs. Kristen Wiig is funny for exactly seven seconds in the first five minutes of the film (you see all seven in the trailer) and then she spends the rest of the film with post-natal depression crying into a glass of wine. Rudolf and O’Dowdl are pleasant enough but their characters develop exactly nowhere and John Hamm (Don Draper of Mad Men) just grows a beard and shouts a lot.

The film goes nowhere and achieves nothing, and the ending is laughably bad, so much so that you feel like someone got drunk in the editing room and said ‘yeah, whatever, probably just leave it there. Roll the credits, let’s all go to the pub!’ It isn’t at all funny, just deeply depressing and wimps out of exploring anything by having the leads get together – yes, technically that’s a spoiler, but you knew it was coming. In Hollywood, what other conclusion could there be apart from everyone realizing that a loving, heterosexual, white monogamous relationship is the only way to raise a child?

Don’t see Friends with Kids if you’re single unless you want to find yourself weeping at the prospect of dying alone and childless, your only companion the relentless beat of your biological clock. Don’t see it if you’re in relationship unless you want to come away with a pervading sense of nihilism that love is a fallacy and said relationship can only swallow itself in bitterness and hate while you spend the best years of your life going through the motions for the children. Just don’t see it.

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