Friends With Kids Review

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Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason (Scott) are the singletons among six friends. When their coupled-up mates start reproducing, they decide to have a child, but keep things platonic. Alas, things don’t quite go to plan once they start dating again.


Except to those who have googled “Jon Hamm’s girlfriend” in a fit of jealous cyber-stalkery, Jennifer Westfeldt is probably best known as the writer and star of Kissing Jessica Stein. That was a smart, strangely likable rom-com about a straight woman so despairing of the New York scene that she starts dating another woman. Now she’s the director, writer and star of a still-strange but less likable rom-com about two friends so despairing of the New York scene, they decide to have a baby together platonically.

The BFFs are Westfeldt’s exacting Julie and Adam Scott’s commitment-shy Jason, an odd couple so attuned that they call in the small hours despite both having dates slumbering beside them. They’re part of a Friends-like group: Missy (Kirsten Wiig) and Ben (Jon Hamm) can’t keep their hands off one another, while Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O’Dowd) are the complacent, settled pair. While they struggle with the arrival of children, Julie and Jason’s bundle of joy causes minimal disruption in their dual household.

The scale of that contrast is over-egged, with the slight implication that couples experiencing difficulties in early parenthood just aren’t trying hard enough. While Julie and Jason slide smoothly into their routine, Missy and Ben snipe bitterly, and Leslie and Alex give their children a lesson in throwing tantrums. The platonic offspring is no sooner weaned than he’s brushed aside to consider what happens when his parents start dating again, with predictable complications.

Westfeldt’s wit and her cast’s comic facility ensure plenty of smart, sarky lines, but any film about upper-middle New Yorkers needs to work harder to stand out. If you’re travelling between Manhattan apartments and skiing lodges, the emotional issues should be that much more complex and better explored to keep our sympathies, or it’s just a stream of first-world problems.

It benefits from a supernaturally engaging cast, but this treads too closely to the rom-com model to feel as smart or moving as Westfeldt’s previous best.