Friends with Kids
Overcome by Its Own Offensive Duplicity
Release Date: March 09, 2012
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 107 minutes
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Director: Jennifer Westfeldt
Writer: Jennifer Westfeldt
Address Comments To:Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff, Co-President
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Once the movie gets past a zippy and funny first half hour, it drags mercilessly through an overly talky and predictable middle segment before becoming reinvigorated during a dinner party fight between two of Julie’s long-married friends. It’s practically a foregone conclusion that Julie and Jason will wind up together as a real couple. The problem is that the movie lags during its talky middle stretch, which also has no unpredictable scenes. Though the final half hour is powerfully performed, a great part of that involves discussion between a disgruntled husband and his wife, two side characters played by Jon Hamm and Kristin Wiig. The final half hour also winds up with one of the most distasteful lines in movie history. (This is no exaggeration.) The final line, which is repeated, echoes the movie’s other frequently offensive content.
[SPOILER ALERT] In the ending, the male lead seems to have learned his lesson that sex won’t make him happy. He also decides he wants to settle down with his best friend and their child. In fact, he delivers an uplifting speech about true love and commitment. At the last minute, however, he crudely asks her to let him prove his feelings for her by having intense sex. It’s a moment so jarring and utterly out of step with the lessons the character allegedly learned that women in the audience were audibly offended and even male critics in the secular media expressed strong distaste.
FRIENDS WITH KIDS wants to succeed in the vein of last year’s movie BRIDESMAIDS – even using four of the same stars in the cast – but doesn’t come close to that movie’s comic energy. Instead, it only appropriates that movie’s raunchier moments.
Worst of all, perhaps, are the sexual jokes and unusually frank discussions of the characters’ sex lives. This also carries over into the characters’ discussion of all the myriad ways to have a baby without the benefit of marriage. All manner of artificial arrangements and strange couplings are recommended until the movie’s central conceit is established: that Julie and Jason – who have been friends for 20 years – should just fornicate until they conceive. Then, when they have the baby, they’ll share custody but continue with their own separate lives in every way.
In the movie’s only positive element, this arrangement proves unworkable. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] Julie and Jason ruin their friendship. To top it off, their child misses having both parents at home. Eventually, this finally encourages Jason to stop being promiscuous. He admits to Julie he truly loves her and wants to have a normal family life. The movie blows this touching moment, however, by having Jason make an extremely crude comment about being sexual with Julie. When Julie repeats the crude line, the movie loses all credibility and goodwill. It provides a final tawdry moment to a movie that could have been much better.
All told, FRIENDS WITH KIDS lacks a strong enough plot to sustain interest. It also has abundant foul language and offensive lewd discussions throughout its running time. Furthermore, the lead male character, a playboy, is shown to be a committed atheist who doesn’t want anything to do with women who believe in God. Finally, with the movie’s final lewd moment, writer and director Jennifer Westfeldt (the pro-homosexual movie KISSING JESSICA STEIN as co-writer) undercuts her own message that true love and friendship are more valuable than sex. FRIENDS WITH KIDS is neither entertaining nor edifying enough to attract a big audience. Jennifer’s movies, which also include the screenplay for the anti-marriage comedy IRA & ABBY, are very clearly not family friendly. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will begin to truly change her apparent career path.
Eventually in FRIENDS WITH KIDS, Julie and Jason find their plan of sharing custody with their child unworkable. Also, the child clearly misses not having both parents in the same home. So, Jason finally decides to end his playboy ways. In fact, he even makes a good speech to Julie about being a family. The movie blows this touching moment, however, by adding a very crude final piece of dialogue. The rest of the movie also is filled with crude elements and gratuitous foul language. Finally, the movie clearly shows that Jason is an atheist who shuns women who believe in God. All in all, FRIENDS WITH KIDS is neither entertaining nor edifying enough. In fact, it’s often talky, predictable, and lackluster.