As far as romantic comedies go Friends with Kids is quite formulaic, although it takes a fairly unconventional route towards it conclusion. Furthermore, although it offers a few laughs, the drama and dilemmas the characters go through are given more attention. The story focuses on long-time, platonic friends Julie and Jason who decide to have a child together, but refrain from becoming romantically involved with each other. This mutual decision is reached once they assume that traditional child-rearing has led to the degradation of their friends’ relationships, as well as their friendships with each other. The circle of friends is completed by the initially ardent lovers Kristen Wigg and Jonn Hamm, as well as Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd, sporting an American accent.
The main (and rather obvious) subject matter, namely that of “friends with kids”, is initially lightly dealt with and the more comedic scenes arise from it, as well as the inadvertent “foot-in-mouth” moments. However, the tone gradually changes as the various characters come to grips with their respective circumstances. Although Julie and Jason are the film’s centre, the additional characters add the necessary substance and context. The film is let down in the beginning by a few overly-dramatic scenes, aggravated by Maya Rudolph’s irritating yelling and shouting; but it is redeemed by the dinner scene during the ski trip later on in the film. The underlying tension amongst the various characters is well played by the actors, who work brilliantly as an ensemble in this scene.
All the characters develop throughout the film, which is a great relief as both men and women, and their attitudes towards each other, are somewhat demonised in the introduction. The film starts out as a progressive addition to the cannon of romantic comedies, but doesn’t quite make the grade. It is arguable that there would be no plot if it had ended differently, but the conclusion remains inevitable and familiar, preventing the film from standing out.
Originally published on Fortress of Solitude.