I really struggled writing this post because I wasn’t sure what to say about Friends With Kids. I’ve been looking forward to this movie for quite a while. I am a big fan of Jennifer Westfeldt’s two prior movies, so I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting myself into and it would be both enjoyable and thoughtful. But, to be honest, I would’ve seen a movie written and directed by Rick Santorum if it featured this cast. My god, has there ever been a better assemblage of actors in a single movie? Don’t even get me started on how much I love Jennifer Westfeldt and Jon Hamm…I mean, I love them so much I would gladly take a job as their sassy latino housekeeper (I’m not latino; that’s just how much I would want the job) just so I could be a part of their lives. Maya Rudolph and Kristin Wiig are hilarious perfection in female form as far as I’m concerned, and Adam Scott is as adorable as they come and can do no wrong in my eyes (not only is he Henry Pollard & Ben Wyatt, but he was also an integral part of my favorite Comedy Bang! Bang! episode). And don’t think I forgot about Chris O’Dowd, who is one of my biggest celebrity crushes of all time (from The IT Crowd, long before Bridesmaids ya’ dummies (I don’t know why shit like this bothers me so much; it’s not a competition)). Throw in Ed Burns and his sexy voice and not even a nuclear disaster could keep me away (I’m going to pretend Megan Fox wasn’t in this movie, although she did a fine job).
So, anyway, to make a long story short (TOO LATE!), I was pretty sure going in that I was going to enjoy this movie. And—good news—I did enjoy this movie. It was entertaining, equal parts humorous and sentimental, with just the right amount of social commentary. My only complaint is that the tone of the ending scene was slightly unpleasant, but the more I reflect upon it the more accepting of it I become. I respect Jennifer Westfeldt so much I feel like I have no right to question her decisions. She’s written and starred in three great movies (and she also directed this one), and my biggest accomplishment to date is surviving to the age of 32 without breaking any major bones. Regardless, my minor gripe with the pivotal ending scene really did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of the movie as a whole. It was good. If you like Westfeldt’s prior movies, you’ll like this one. If you love the cast, you’ll enjoy the movie. If you don’t fall into either category, maybe you should stay home and spend some time reeavaluating your life.
But anyway, I don’t really have much else to say about this movie. I liked it, but it’s probably not for people who only go to movies that are based on Nicholas Sparks books or feature the tagline “Tyler Perry’s”. To be sure, it was an engaging medidation on adult relationships and how getting married and having kids affects them. It’s entirely possible that my enjoyment of this movie came more from my interest in Westfeldt’s deconstruction of traditional relationship structures and my love for the cast than the overall quality of the movie. That’s not to say that this wasn’t a high quality movie, just that I can see how some might find the message of this movie off-putting. There was an interesting exchange between Adam Scott’s & Jennifer Westfeldt’s characters early on in the movie, where they conclude that divorced parents have it best because they can get the kids thing out of the way and then find the love of their life without complicating it by having kids together. This made me question whether someone viewing this movie from a different standpoint than myself may find the overall tone dismissive of the traditional family trajectory (i.e., fall in love, get married, then have kids). I’m sure the script was highly influenced by Westfeldt’s own relationship decisions (assuming being in a long-term marriage-less and child-less relationship with Jon Hamm is the result of conscious decisions and not just happy accidents), but I don’t think the overall message is that people who take the traditional approach are wrong, just that such an approach isn’t right for everyone. This movie depicts multiple different relationships, and what works for some does not work for others. I applaud that message.
Although, to be fair, I tend to celebrate any medium that doesn’t treat marriage like some barrometer of normalness. Marriage can be a great thing, but I don’t think it’s right for everyone. I, for one, have no intention of ever getting married or having kids. That doesn’t mean those things will never happen, just that I don’t consider them to be specific lifetime goals. Would I like to meet someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with? Most definitely (I’m not completely damaged, afterall). But would I be satisfied finding someone that I could simply tolerate for the sole purpose of satisfying some society-induced mandate to get married and have kids? Not a chance. That sounds like a fate worse than death to me. My mom says it best: don’t get married until you find the person that you can’t live without. My mom is very smart; she didn’t get married until she was 28, which in practically 40 in 1975 years. If I was dying to have kids, maybe my opinion would be different. But I don’t know if I ever want kids. I applaud people that marry their college sweetheart, pop out a couple kids by the time they’re 30 and live happily ever after. If that’s something you want from your life, by all means go after it. I think that’s great. But it wasn’t until I entered my 30s that I finally started to feel like I really knew myself and what I want from life. I’m a very different person now than I was in college; hell, I’m a different person now than I was just 5 years ago. Maybe someday I’ll meet a man that I find interesting long enough to want to marry him, and maybe I’ll even decide that I want kids. Or maybe I won’t. All I know is that Westfeldt’s movies, which each explore non-traditional approaches to adult relationships, have definitely hit home with me.
Ugh, jesus this post was boring. I apologize. The bottom line is that I liked the movie and I think you should see it if you’re into this sort of thing. Next week the goal is to see both 21 Jump Street & Jeff Who Lives at Home (if I can find enough time between working and watching basketball games), so hopefully one of those will spark some creativity out of me.
Friends With Kids: See it in the Theater (or don’t; whatever)