Jennifer Westfeldt's debut behind the camera makes good on an unusual premise for a charming, modestly budgeted attractive romantic comedy for adults -two good friends are committed to the child they plan on having together. One that combines elements of recent Hollywood pics like Life As We Know It and Friends With Benefits.
Friends with Kids isn't from the stage like Westfeldt's earlier, crisper Kissing Jessica Stein which she co-wrote. Her latest idea is well-invested to the entanglements of modern life, particularly when it comes to relationships.
Westfeldt's script features her and Adam Scott (NBC's Parks and Recreation) as singletons Julie and Jason wanting what her friends have - children. A convenient marketing hook to last year's hit Bridesmaids comes by way of the writer/director/star's longtime off-screen partnership with Jon Hamm (soon to be reprising his dapper, conflicted Don Draper on the delayed fifth season of the award-winning original AMC series Mad Men) as Ben who's married to Kristen Wiig's Missy. Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd also are on hand as eponymous folks, Leslie and Alex, who were also in the raunchy comedy that saw costar Melissa McCarthy earn a Supporting Actress nomination.
Whether at a holiday ski trip or a dinner party, the main conflict is credibly empathetic through requisite emotional underpinnings as Julie and Jason know that time isn't on their side. Their arrangement allows them to be active in the dating scene, she with Kurt and he with Mary Jane as Edward Burns (Man on a Ledge) and Megan Fox aren't allotted throwaway backup roles.
The filmmaking lets the characters open up with the ensemble embracing their foibles as well as their finer points with occasionally snappy, pungent results. What Westfeldt is really committed to is supporting the key relationship of Julie and Jason, and Scott (up from Leap Year) really delivers in a way that clicks on-screen with her with some care taken to musical cues for points of emphasis. While it does hold true to genre trappings mostly in the lattergoing (which languishes before the likely resolution), Friends with Kids is often affable and gradually touching as Julie and Jason confront the truth implicit in their decision.
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