Friends with Kids (BLU-RAY)

Friends with Kids

On Blu-Ray: 
Monday, August 13, 2012
Running Time: 
1 Hour, 40 Minutes

Friends with Kids is a comedy/drama (or is it a drama/comedy?) somewhat in the same vein as much of Judd Apatow's work. You know the sort: the rough-around-the-edges cast with great chemistry, telling a great story that's a heartfelt look at the pitfalls and positives of simply being a human in relationship with other human beings. Where Apatow and his crew have succeeded where others have failed is that they've mastered the balance of the crude and beautiful. Their characters are broken, but gracefully so, if that makes sense. They're brutually human, but that humanity is an opportunity for growth, not stagnation. That Apatow makes it look so easy is one of the key reasons why he's so good at what he does.

All that to say that, while Friends with Kids isn't quite on the same level as Funny People or Knocked Up, it's a solid film in its own right. It follows the lives of three couples as they navigate marriage and parenthood. Well, at least two of the couples do, at least in the traditional sense. You've got Chris O'Dowd and Maya Rudolph as one couple and Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm as the other. Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt (who also directed the film) are two friends who are also best friends with the two couples. While they've never been romantically involved, they're such good friends that all three couples are used to hanging out and spending time together. That is until the introduction of children...and that's ultimately where this movie stumbles the most. The chemistry of the cast is undeniable. It's a lot of fun seeing everyone together. But for the majority of the storyline, kids are a collective milestone around the necks of the people involved. There's a lot of whining and complaining about how awful they are and how terrible their parents' lives are now that they're alive.

Now to be sure, I get it. My wife and I have two kids, with a third on the way. I get that your life is never the same after kids. And sure, there are a lot of freedoms that you have to alter or give up once they're around. But no one forces kids on you. Sure, there are "accidents," but as best as I can tell in this film, both of the couples actively wanted kids. Sometimes maturity and change are simply pushed into our lives by our own choices. At any rate, that's my biggest complaint about this movie. There's a little bit of a balance later in the story, but there's an underlying cynicism that was a bit disappointing.

That said, the rest of the movie is pretty solid. It's funny and you get to watch the cast actually grow and develop. And that's not even touching on the, shall we say, unique agreement that Scott and Westfeldt's characters reach to both have their cake and eat it too. It's a tad unwieldy, but they pull it off in a way that feels believable. Westfeldt does a great job in the dual actor/director roles and, while this isn't her first time in the director's chair, she's worth watching see how her career develops. In the end, if all that sounds like your cup of tea, you should check this out. 

Jeremy Hunt
Review by Jeremy Hunt
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