Friends with Kids
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Friends with Kids is a dramedy about adult relationships and having and raising children -- themes that may not particularly appeal to younger viewers, despite a cast filled with Bridesmaids veterans like Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Jon Hamm. Characters frankly assess the challenges of child-rearing, making the movie honest to a degree that young kids won't probably be able to process or understand with nuance. There are also open, graphic discussions about sex (what it's like pre- and post-baby, what happens to the body and libido, etc.), and a few scenes that show sex/implied sex (no sensitive nudity). Marriages are depicted in various stages of tension and discord; relationships are fuzzy and confusing. Characters swear frequently and colorfully ("f--k," "s--t," etc.) and do plenty of social/a bit more than social drinking.
What's the story?
Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) are longtime best friends who are the last in their circle to have kids. And they don't like what they see: The kids are adorable, the lifestyle full of love and life. But the parents? They're hanging on by a thread, their marriages either icy or downright hostile. Is this what having children does to relationships? Perhaps, then, it would be better for them if they had kids without being involved with each other. Then they could have the joys of parenting, but none of the boredom and tension that happen after. And since they like each other a lot, as friends, why not have a baby with each other and then try to have separate dating lives after? But their plan isn't as foolproof as they think it is.
Is it any good?
Let's start by saying that FRIENDS WITH KIDS is often funny and heartfelt, the kind of movie you won't necessarily regret paying for at the multiplex. Better this than, say, the quasi-edgy films that don't say much at all, or the hyper-violent ones that aim simply to dish out a body count. But it's also a disappointment. The premise is interesting but not entirely easy to buy: How can two friends decide that it's simpler to make a baby so they can avoid the fallout that happens between couples post-pregnancy and not realize that there are bound to be issues here, too? One character alludes to this, but the issues are treated as if they're not obvious. For instance, Jason and Julie seem to think it'll be quite simple to go back to dating once the baby's born and soon after the pregnancy weight is shed. On what planet? And must every relationship follow the same tired old road? (There's no need to call a spoiler when we all know this is how it unwinds.) Girl and guy don't think they like each other; girl likes guy after all (because he is, of course, adorable); guy thinks girl isn't his type; girl leaves guy; guy sees the light.
There are also some pretty unimaginative knocks on parenting: how it tries marriages, how it's so hard. Couples are too tired for sex; they argue about chores. This is nothing new. Plus, how is it possible that the most underwritten characters are the ones inhabited by Westfeldt's real-life beau, Jon Hamm, and one of the funniest comediennes around, Kristen Wiig? And no offense to writer-director Westfeldt, whose sharp wit is evident in so much of the movie's dialogue, but When Harry Met Sally called, and it wants its ending back. The winning speech, the fake hesitation (though perhaps not the sexualized banter) -- it's been done before. Friends with Kids is an entertaining movie. At times, it's even wise. Had it been unburdened by most of its romcom cliches, it could've been brilliant.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Friends with Kids' messages about relationships. What is it saying about single life? Married life? How accurate do you think it is? Do movies give us a realistic portrait of relationships in general?
Why do movies see parenting as rife for comedic material? Do they exaggerate it in any way? Do you think the characters in this movie are good parents? Why or why not?
Do Jason and Julie's reasons to have a baby make sense? Or are they the kind that only seem to come up in movies?