Friends with Kids (2012) Review

Friends with Kids is a film about parenting for the contemporary single. In this film, best friends have reached their reproductive ‘best by’ date. The only way to have the child, so desired by each, and the soul mate of their individual dreams is to conceive a child between them on mutually beneficial terms. This seemingly Herculean task is conquered impressively by the film’s ability to delve into the possibility of this imminent cultural phenomenon and still bring it (realistically) home with a Hollywood ending.

The single lady is Jennifer Westfeldt. Her portrayal of Julie as an independent career do-gooder is palpable. She loves her job, her friends and her idea of the best life she imagines for herself. Adam Scott is Jason, Julie’s best friend. He, too, has the ideal life mapped-out in his head. Both foresee the greatest challenge as being the maintenance of a romantic marriage with the complication of childrearing.

It seems like more than awhile since a film has been able to present the rawest and most sincere aspects of childrearing without overshooting the attempts to be user-friendly. Friends with Kids is such a unique concept that there is no attempt to make anything easy or too cute. Though Julie and Jason are singles that decide to procreate, their friends from college are married. Here are six adults taking their best shots at the life they believe works for them.

On this level, filmmaking crosses through a barrier. That which once was intended to entertain becomes educational, speaking volumes to young professionals, new parents and all others besotted by love. Even parents of adult children will recall the days when they were still learning to master the Art of Parenting and laugh knowing that things in life tend to work out for the best in the end.

Such emotional highs and lows require participants that consistently deliver the goods. It is here that the romantic comedy dream team has landed. Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig are the married ladies, Leslie and Missy. Chris O’Dowd and Jon Hamm are Alex and Ben, their gents. Together with Julie and Jason, there is no indecency too great for friendship, nor any conversation too small. The comedic excellence is only intensified by the dramatic strengths of each character allowing multi-leveled responses to every interaction. These actors always give enough, whether audiences are loving them, hating them or are caught somewhere in between.

Here is a film that tackles uncomfortable dialogues and awkward miscommunications without ever getting too silly or overworking the button on the cringe factor. Friends with Kids allows audiences to see a nuclear family in the aftermath of politically corrected, never forgotten and recessioned times. Somehow, the decision to have a family is exercising the choice to bring people closer.

For audiences who nurse a crush on New York City, there are many great classic city shots. Red brick walk-ups, busy storefronts, local spots throughout Brooklyn and ritzy Manhattan are candy to the eyes. This film is a lovers stroll for everyone who believes that all of the world’s problems can be solved after one complete circumference around Central Park whenever in NYC.

In this New York story, Jennifer Westfedlt has brought forth another gem. As writer, director and female lead, she has navigated a course in cinema all her own. Matriculating in a big city is no easy feat. But it is not impossible, either. Westfeldt celebrates the learned perks of city-living with the acquired appreciation of life’s other moments, as well.

Friends with Kids exhibits a balanced world where there is no such thing as asking too much and yet it never allows itself to become pretentious. Audiences relate to the characters as equally as they relate to the comedy, which is sustained throughout all seven years of this window into the lives of this particular group of friends with kids.