Amanda Gates

Movie: Friends with Kids

I love Jennifer Westfeldt. Ever since I watched Kissing Jessica Stein more than 10 years ago, I’ve loved her. She writes smart, fun, flirty films. Her main characters (so her, mostly) are flawed and confused, but really, really good people. I loved her in Notes from the Underbelly, the short-lived comedy a few years back. Ira & Abby was cute, too, and introduced me to the lovable Chris Messina (who will be on Mindy Kaling’s new show this fall). Plus, at the end of the day she gets to go home with Jon Hamm. What’s not to love?

When Friends with Kids came out last year, I knew I would have to see it. It finally came available for rental this week and I watched it last night. Just by who was in the film (Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Edward Burns), you can tell that over the years Jennifer and Jon (who is in all three of her movies) have made some good friends. The cast is excellent and so is the story.

The premise of the movie studies marriage after kids. Can you be happy and in love with kids? After seeing their friends become exhausted people, different people, post kids, Julie and Jason (Westfeldt and Scott), best friends, don’t think you can have all three. So, they decide to have a kid together without the relationship.

And at first, it seems like they have it all figured out. They split time equally. When the baby is with Jason, Julie can going running, cook great food for her friends and go out in the evenings. When you’re married, you’re together all the time. No one gets to leave and sleep at their own place for the night. During the newborn stage, Julie and Jason’s arrangement actually seems kind of perfect.

Ah, but can you have your cake and eat it too? Things aren’t always as perfect as they seem, which is what the movie continues to discover.

I loved that the movie showed all different kinds of relationships. Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm’s characters’ marriage struggles. Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd’s characters’ marriage is hard, but there’s real love there. Julie and Jason show what it’s like to date with a kid. It’s a unique study in relationships. (I kind of wonder if any of Westfeldt and Hamm’s friends wondered who in the movie was modeled after real-life people they know.)

And while I love Westfeldt, the true star of the movie is Adam Scott (Is he the new Paul Rudd? In everything, but cuter and not so ridiculous?). He’s phenomenal. He plays the perfect mix of douchebag, kind best friend, smart ass and loving father. Even when his character is at his worst, you don’t hate him. You feel for him. And when he comes to certain realizations about his life and gets emotional, your heart swells.

Minus the constant swearing in front of the children, which I feel is unrealistic and irresponsible, as well as the casting of Megan Fox (blech), the movie is awesome and completely and truly Westfeldt. I wish she wrote movies every year.

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