Friends with Kids Review
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For many couples, the decision to have a child isn’t an easy one. It’s a life-changing event involving the sacrifice of things like flexibility and money and extra sleep—and it’s often discussed and planned for at great length. But, in writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt’s Friends with Kids, a pair of single Manhattanites decide that they can beat the system.

It wasn’t long ago that Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt), Jason (Adam Scott), and their four closest friends were living the perfect Manhattan life. They were young and successful, and they got together at the hippest, fanciest restaurants. But then their friends started having kids—and their spontaneous nights out in Manhattan suddenly turned into messy, stressful screaming matches in Brooklyn.

After one particularly frustrating night with their friends, Julie concludes that having kids kills relationships—and it would be better to have kids before settling in with the perfect partner. So she and Jason decide to give it a try—to have a child together, share custody, and move on with their lives.

  
 
At first, everything goes surprisingly well. They both adore their son, Joe, and their parenting partnership goes smoothly. But then (as you might expect) their feelings start to get in the way.

With its faulty chick flick set-up and a supporting cast that includes a whole lot of Bridesmaids alumni, Friends with Kids seems destined to be formulaic and obnoxious. But while the story is undeniably predictable (and the reasoning behind the set-up is so confusing that even the characters don’t really seem to understand it), it’s often surprisingly charming and sophisticated—a more thoughtful take on the same old rom-com.

Friends with Kids is realistically awkward and sincerely funny. If you have friends with kids, you’ll be able to relate to that feeling of terror that builds as you watch your previously cool, laid-back friends turn into frantic, messy parents. And if you have kids of your own, you’ll be able to relate to the many ways in which it changes your life (and your perspective…and your priorities) forever.

Still, it isn’t just about having kids. It’s about love—about the mature, grown-up discovery that real, lasting love is about more than just romance and passion and excitement. It’s also about friendship and companionship and partnership. And while the main characters spend much of the film on a quest for romance and passion, they eventually begin to discover that those things can easily fade—and, without a solid, sustaining friendship, there’s simply nothing left.

Really, these aren’t the kind of characters that audiences should fall in love with. Their decision to have a child in a way that won’t put a damper on their lifestyles is both naïve and completely selfish—and their view of relationships in general is immature. Yet both Westfeldt and Scott are so adorably clueless that you’ll like them in spite of their flaws. And though the constant back-and-forth of the duo’s will-they-or-won’t-they relationship eventually starts to wear a bit thin, you’ll hang in there, looking forward to the (not entirely romantic) payoff.

Friends with Kids definitely isn’t the typical chick flick. It’s slower and more dramatic—but it’s also smarter and more sophisticated. So if you’re looking for a romance that’s more honest than hilarious, give this flawed but charming chick flick a try.


Blu-ray Review:
The charm of Jennifer Westfeldt’s Friends with Kids continues to come through loud and clear on the film’s Blu-ray release. The disc includes a number of special features, including a handful of deleted scenes, as well as a short making-of feature, in which Westfeldt and her lovable cast members discuss the film’s inspiration and how the story is relevant to their lives. For a little more about the process, you’ll also want to explore other features, like Scene 42: Anatomy of a Gag (with its optional giggle-heavy commentary), which shows how the cast members struggled to put one ad-libbed scene together.

For more laughs, you’ll want to watch the two-part Ad Libs and Bloopers, which shows both the adults and kids in all kinds of hilarious situations (though, as you might expect, the kids are way funnier). Or check out MJ Rocks at Video Games, with Megan Fox beating Adam Scott at an actual video game in real time.

If that’s still not enough, take some time to listen to the film’s audio commentary, in which Westfeldt, husband/producer/actor Hamm, and DP William Rexer discuss movie making on a budget, their favorite shots, and more.

There’s definitely plenty to love about the Friends with Kids Blu-ray release—but, if you’ve got just a few minutes to spare, I recommend starting with the making-of feature. It isn’t long or particularly comprehensive, but it’s an adorable look at the movie and its cast.

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