Words by Naomi Jeffreys
This independent American ensemble comedy tells the story of two best friends who decide to have child together, but keep their relationship platonic,so they can avoid the toll kids can have on their relationship.
This film, written, directed and produced by Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein) is fortunate with the cast, Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig play sex obsessed Missy and Ben, whilst Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd play the placid Leslie and Alex. These two couples are the reason why Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt) decide to have a kid together but to strictly remain friends.
The audience sees Ben and Missy’s sexual relationship turn bitter and cold, each turning to drink and struggling to keep the family together. Whereas Alex and Leslie are trapped in their secure lifestyle, the passion has gone and they remain true for their family. Westfeldt and Scott have a good chemistry on screen, but, unlike the phenomenally successful 2011 comedy Bridesmaids (in which most of this ensemble are from) there is just something missing.
Unlike Wiig, who had the ability to carry a feature film and who the audience was automatically drawn to. Westfeldt just doesn’t have this quality. Maybe it is because she is trying to act through layers of botox and filler, but as visually pleasing as the film is, she just doesn’t have the acting chops which equal the strong ensemble cast she has assembled.
The film does have some positives, it is good to see Kristen Wiig (SNL, Bridesmaids) in a non comedic role, the breakdown of her marriage with Jon Hamm is touching and should have been developed more, if you’re given an actor at the top of their game, use them. Westfeldt also creates a moment, an atmosphere, whether it is the jazz music playing when the group meet up, or the colour pallet being orange and warm. She certainly does the best she can, and the results aren’t bad.
With a reasonable budget of $10 million, the film was deemed independent and was premiered at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival on September 9th 2011. The reviews of the film were 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 103 reviews and an average rating of 6.5/10.
Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd play to their expected roles, the sassy friend and the kind, if slightly flawed husband. Although the film’s premise was good, the execution wasn’t great, one can’t help wondering what the film would be like if Wiig got her hands on the lead role.
Friends With Kids is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday 29th June