Saturday, 10 March 2012

FRIENDS WITH KIDS - Review By Greg Klymkiw - If you enjoy going out to the movies to watch television, then this by-the-numbers romantic comedy that purports to be clever (and ultimately promotes the most sickening bourgeois values) is just for you.

Friends With Kids (2012) dir. Jennifer Westfeldt
Starring: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Edward Burns, Megan Fox


By Greg Klymkiw

Friends With Kids takes the idea of male-female friendship a few terrifying steps beyond that simple, but successful When Harry Met Sally formula.

Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason (Scott) have been best friends for twenty years. Neither of them is remotely attracted to one another, but in every other respect, they're a perfect couple. Neither of them has found a perfect mate to settle down with, but both want to have a kid. The problem, as they see it, is that all their other married friends have kids and it's the breeding and rearing of said progeny that's turned these once-happy-go-lucky couples into harried dullards. So, they come up with a plan to procreate with each other, share all the child-rearing responsibilities, cut-loose to find their respective Mr. and Ms. Right AND remain the closest of friends.

It turns out this is all easier said than done - especially since way, deep, down in the abyss that is their collective souls, they really do love each other. They just don't know it yet.

Will they eventually find happiness with each other?

Well, not before we, the audience, have to put up with TV-sitcom-styled dialogue purporting to be sophisticated - fired out in Howard Hawks-like rat-a-tat-tat fashion - purportedly in homage to classic romantic screwball comedy, but in reality to mask how shallow all the characters are, including everything that spews out of their mouths.

We are therefore forced to wallow, like pigs in a trough full of horrendous upper-middle-class values in these repugnant empty vessels - either to remind us how wonderful the lifestyles of bourgeois sheep are or as a carrot of "success" to dangle before those who, God help them, might aspire to emulating these frightful people and their negligible existence.

Especially grotesque is the bourgeois breeder mentality that infuses all the characters - particularly our two leads. There's a selfishness and immaturity that we're all supposed to, uh, "relate" to. I'd personally find it easier to relate to Manson Family values than these petty, machine-tooled "sophisticates".

As a bonus, we get to have our noses rubbed in the film's execrable notion of an ideal romantic comedy couple. Adam Scott is a decent enough character actor, but he is not, in any way, shape or form a leading man - much less a ROMANTIC leading man. He has the look and style of delivery that would be more at home in a low-brow sexist gross-out comedy or filling the shoes of a stereotypical dweeb-ish bureaucratic villain in some overblown B-picture masquerading as A-picture.

Scott, however, is Cary Grant compared to his female counterpart, the hideously unwatchable Jennifer Westfeldt who might best be compared to Zasu Pitts, though this, finally, would be uncharitable towards the unfortunately-named comedienne of 40s comedies. Westfeldt is perhaps one of the most woefully inexpressive actresses I've ever had the displeasure to witness on a big screen. Not only does she have a clumping, clod-hopping gait, but her face is weirdly frozen. Westfeldt is clearly too young to have been mainlining Botox, but I'd hate to think how immobile her expressions would be if and when she does partake in this hideous, dehumanizing butchery.

Then again, let's not forget that it's Westfeldt who is responsible for this abomination as she not only stars in it, but wrote (in a manner of speaking) and directed (as it were) what is easily one of the worst romantic comedies of the new millennium.

Sadly, a decent supporting cast - comprised of a whole whack of familiar faces from the wonderful Bridesmaids - and a very handsome, pleasing Edward Burns, are all, for the most part wasted.

Thankfully, though, their presence is enough to keep the movie from inspiring full-on chunk-blowing.

The other accolade I can charitably volley in its direction is that the movie is clearly a pubic hair or two above Sex and the City II, though frankly, that's a notion far more frightening than the prospect of Westfeldt upping her inexpressive "qualities" with Botox.

"Friends With Kids" is currently playing theatrically and will no doubt find its rightful place on the small screen.