To be brutally honest, Jennifer Westfeldt's acting career has been pretty non-climactic. Outside of a leading role in 2001's vastly underseen Kissing Jessica Stein and a few appearances on hit television shows like 24 and Grey's Anatomy, Westfeldt's biggest claim to fame is her longtime boyfriend and Mad Men star, Jon Hamm. Therefore, the unappreciated actress turned her talents to a passion project called Friends with Kids. As the writer, director, and leading star of 2012's newest dramedy, it will be hard for people to ignore Jennifer Westfeldt.
Friends with Kids follows lifelong best friends Jason (played by Scott) and Julie (played by Westfeldt). After spending years as the "leftover" friends to a close-knit group of married couples, Jason and Julie come up with the craziest notion possible. While watching the first-hand repercussions that having children has had on their closest friends, Jason and Julie decide to have a baby. By keeping the experience platonic and hoping to eventually find "the ones" later in life, the pair of best friends attempt the unthinkable. But as you can imagine, things don't always go as planned.
Westfeldt jumps behind the camera to tackle the recently overdone dramedy angle. Friends with Kids is an awkwardly mediocre venture into the popular 21st century hybrid genre. As is usually the case, the feature demonstrates a difficulty balancing the two disjoint perspectives. When it's at its funniest, Friends with Kids is a hysterical mocking of marriage and the labors of adulthood. On the other hand, the film ultimately falters at times with its shocking split-second 180 degree turns to the dramatic. The rapid pace in which the movie jumps back and forth between the opposite ends of the spectrum become far too exhausting and uncomfortable. Perhaps Westfeldt's directorial debut would have been better served as an all out laughable feature.
Despite the movie's lack of an identity, Friends with Kids benefits greatly from its versatile cast. The film rejoins numerous cast members from 2011 Golden Globe nominee Bridesmaids. Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm make up one of the picture's supporting couples, and Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd make up the other. O'Dowd, who's most known as Wiig's civil servant love interest in Bridesmaids, clearly steals the show. The talented comedian delivers laugh after laugh and his character never wears thin. Furthermore, the movie's leading stars, Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt, do all they can to keep the audience's attention. Scott continues to show his range-filled onscreen ability while dishing out the jokes and tugging at the heartstrings (sometimes simultaneously). Even though Friends with Kids offers a great ensemble, its flawed script and sense of uncertainty keep it from grandeur.
Friends with Kids is a run of the mill collaboration of comedy and emotions. There are some very tender moments and genuine scenes to go along with its laughs. However, the film's lowest points come at the hands of bickering adults who are at each other's throats. It's instances like these that leave the feature feeling all too unsettled and inappropriate. There's plenty to enjoy as the film is somewhat entertaining and downright hysterical at times. Yet, the whole package is weaker than the sum of its parts. Hence, I suggest waiting for DVD, if at all, to check out Friends with Kids.