Friends With Kids

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Question: How do you avoid the often inevitable erosion of romance that occurs when partners become parents? Answer: You have a kid with someone you don’t love. That’s the conclusion that BFFs Jason (Scott) and Julie (writer-director Westfeldt) come to after watching their married friends bicker, buckle and break down under the strain of raising children. Since the platonic pals share everything with each other, why not share bringing up a baby, too? And since they aren’t attracted to each other, there’s no danger that Jason or Julie will end up feeling sexually neglected or like a second-class spouse. BAM! Out comes the infant. ZING! Their experiment works, to their friends’ disbelief. KA-POW! Jason hooks up with an insanely hot actress (Fox), while Julie lands a hunky divorcé (Burns). BLERG! Feelings sprout up and everything falls apart.

How is it that a film boasting a high-caliber comic cast—including Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd, i.e., almost half  of the heavy hitters from Bridesmaids—and a rich premise feel so weak on laughs? (Not that dramatic depth is given precedence; that’s largely AWOL as well.) And never mind why Westfeldt the director keeps lighting Westfeldt the actor like she’s Doris Day—why does Westfeldt the screenwriter seem to think that foul-mouthed dialogue alone begets frank insight? For every impressive performance-driven moment or pinprick instance of wit, there are dozens of attempted jokes, emotional beats, salient points about parenthood and vague explorations of relationship pitfalls that resoundingly thud. The movie’s multitasking creator seems to have bitten off more then she can chew. Her friends should have advised “baby steps.”

Follow David Fear on Twitter: @davidlfear

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