Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason (Scott) are best friends; the kind that call each other in the middle of the night and have that seemingly psychic ability to finish each other’s thoughts. Surrounded by friends who’ve gotten married, had kids and subsequently turned into unhappy, undersexed versions of their prior, fun selves, they decide to skip the romance part, have a kid and build a completely platonic family in which they divide the child rearing equally between themselves – a setup that leaves them free to date other people on the side. They basically get the best of both worlds; they get the kid without any of the marriage drama/trauma and they get to date around without the stress of wondering when, if ever, they’ll meet someone they could have a kid with and in Julie’s case, whether it’ll happen before her eggs expire.
The film starts off really well – crackling – with the kind of friendship between Jason and Julie that only exists in the fiction but makes you jealous of what the characters have anyhow. It’s almost Woody Allen-ish – the dialogue’s fast, hilarious and the chemistry between Westfeldt and Scott sizzles. It’s slightly after the baby arrives – once Julie and Jason start dating other people to be specific – that the film devolves into your regular romantic comedy. It’s not bad, but it’s nothing special and doesn’t live up to the promise shown in the first half and to the overall premise. The film takes the most predictable, least controversial, path, becomes an ode to true love and the nuclear family, and is consequently barely distinguishable from the rest of its ilk.
The film’s not so much flawed as it is disappointingly conventional but if there’s one thing about it that’s just awesome, it’s the cast. Despite the fact that it’s packed with stars, its Westfeldt and Scott’s film and they carry it really well. The rest, Hamm, O’Dowd, Rudolph, Wiig – some of the biggest names in comedy right now, all of whom are incidentally Bridesmaids alums – are given small roles as Jason and Julie’s couple friends; the ones whose post-marriage lives put Julie and Jason completely off of the idea. While they all straddle the line between outright hilarious and slightly tragic quite successfully, Rudolph makes the biggest and best impression. Somehow she manages to make her life, which basically consists of running around after her toddlers and yelling at her husband, not seem like the worst thing in the world. She defies the judgmental single-person’s view of her life and just dares them to tell her that she made the wrong choice.
Friends with Kids has a fantastic first half and a second half that’s not quite as great. Either way, though, it’s still a win in our book and definitely a film worth watching.