Despite bearing an almost identical leading cast to that of the hugely triumphant Bridesmaids, Jennifer Westfeldt's Friends with Kids is lacking in the progressive, facetiousness the Oscar nominated feature shone in, and is instead somewhat dull and unoriginal, and as writer, director and starring role, Westfeldt is the only one going to have to deal with the negative repercussions.
The film begins as a group of friends meet for dinner, two happy couples in Alex (Chris O'Dowd) and Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and the starry eyed Missy (Kristen Wiig) and Ben (Jon Hamm), as well singletons Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt). Blissfully enjoying life, that soon changes as Alex and Leslie announce they are expecting their first child. Fast forward four years and everything has changed, for the worse.
As those around them suffer from the testing exertions of parenthood, best friends Jason and Julie decide to have a child together, yet to keep their relationship purely platonic, in an attempt to enjoy the positive aspects of raising a child, without worrying about a potentially flailing marriage. However, as the pair start dating other people and their child gets older, they soon realise that such a situation may have been somewhat easier said than done...
Of course after the success of Bridesmaids there has been an expectation placed on whatever film the talented group of actors do next, and although depicting an entirely different tale, given the almost identical cast it is difficult not to compare the two, and when doing so, it certainly doesn't leave Friends with Kids in a good light. It's simply lacking in the edge that Bridesmaids had, and quite simply not as funny, as this proves to be much more of a generic romantic comedy, although far more rom, than com.
It all just feels as though it has been done before, the themes of children ruining relationships and there being no sex when you're married is familiar territory, ultimately leading to what proves to be a somewhat predictable picture. In fact I think I predicted the ending of this film within a mere seven seconds. However having said that, Friends with Kids is mostly what you would expect in such a film, asking few questions of its audience, undemanding and unpretentious.
Also, it's difficult to criticise the performances within the film, although one must question the lack of screen time the supporting cast are awarded. The married couples provide the greatest material yet they are underused, with far too much emphasis placed upon the relationship between Jason and Julie. It seems that between Hamm and Wiig there is little over a page of dialogue, whilst O'Dowd is also in need of a more influential role, despite the fact he is still doing that weird Irish/American accent thing again. Our protagonists, on the other hand, are inoffensive, although Scott works much better as the vulgar low-life that he portrays in Step Brothers, whereas his character Jason is far too pleasant and respectable for my liking.
Relatively enjoyable in parts, Friends with Kids remains mostly forgettable, and in the week where we have learnt of the sad death of film maker and writer Nora Ephron, it reminds us just how great the romantic comedy genre can be, yet also works by way of highlighting how mediocre others, such as this, can be too. Yet I guess we'll just have to accept the fact that films like When Harry Met Sally don't come around too often...