Friends with Kids Jennifer Westfeldt

Friends with Kids Jennifer Westfeldt
The conundrum at the heart of every romantic comedy is how to keep the two people who seem destined at the outset to end up together from doing just that until the very end. In that regard, writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt has created a rather ingenious construct with Friends With Kids, a smart, understatedly funny take on an all-too familiar genre. The film centers on Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt), two long-time platonic pals who decide as those around them begin having children to plan one of their own, minus the burden of any romantic entanglements. Two rather sceptical couples round out the titular friends: the passionate Ben (Jon Hamm) and Missy (Kristen Wiig), and the more conservative Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O'Dowd). As the years roll by, small cracks appear in the plan of Jason and Julie, in the form of other boyfriends (Ed Burns) and girlfriends (Megan Fox), while also coming to terms with the inescapable truth that maybe, just maybe, they have deeper feelings for each other. The dialogue is sharp and witty, elevated further from the typical sitcom standard by a dream cast that sink their teeth into the choice material. Scott especially is provided a role that he appears to have been moving towards his entire career, as a self-centered, shallow, yet likeable lead oblivious to what's in front of him. All of the relationships touch on intriguing questions about not only what draws us to others, but also how to sustain that ineffable quality over time. While there may be little suspense (or reality, for that matter) in where the story is headed, it's a testament to everyone's work that the ending still feels earned, proving that it's always more about how you get there. The trend throughout the extras is effusive praise for the many talents of Westfeldt, with a standard making-of doc best encapsulated by Scott's appraisal of her as, "Woody Allen, with better boobs." A commentary track with Westfeldt, (her long-time boyfriend) Hamm and cinematographer Willam Rexer proves more enlightening, offering everything from ways they kept the cost down on the production to laments on the many difficulties of working with child actors. They may not have re-invented the romantic comedy wheel with their work, but at least they found a fresh way to use it. (VVS)