I dragged a girlfriend to see Friends With Kids last weekend. I wanted to see it mostly because I love the idea of seeing hunky Jon Hamm’s very talented longtime partner, Jennifer Westfeldt, direct him in a chick-flick she also wrote and stars in, alongside Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig. And I’d read an intriguing article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine called “Jennifer Westfeldt and Jon Hamm Give Birth (to a Movie)“. It’s very much worth a read, especially if you admire strong, creative women. Some feminists have criticized the writer for unfairly focusing on Westfeldt’s uterus and reproductive decisions when it should be an article solely about her work and career. (“You would never ask a 42-year-old man about his sperm count…” goes the argument.)
Anyway: I enjoyed the film, but I didn’t love it, for two reasons.
1. It’s only about half as funny as Bridesmaids. There wasn’t as much slapstick comedy as I’d hoped. (Both movies do, however, include explosive diarrhea scenes.)
2. The portrayal of life-after-kids is pretty darn bleak! While the movie is, in the end, fairly heart-warming and sentimental, I wouldn’t exactly call it pro-kid. There are more scenes devoted to the many ways in which children ruin marriages than the many ways in which they’re adorable and charming. And the adult characters debating parenthood seem inordinately anxious about their post-baby bodies, their sex lives, and their loss of freedom – all of which seem a little shallow to me when you’re weighing the pros and cons of creating a family.
Personally, I know I’ll worry much more about what it will feel like to have a child – someone you love so much it hurts – out there in the world, vulnerable to so many different things. It’s like having a piece of your heart walking around outside you, exposed, when you just want your kid to always be happy and safe. But maybe that concern quickly fades into the background when you’re dealing with the day-to-day duties of parenthood.
Without giving away too many more spoilers, I’ll also add that Maya Rudolph totally steals the movie. Her relationship with her on-screen husband (the cute Irish cop in Bridesmaids, sadly appearing here without the accent) is wonderfully realistic, with lots of good-natured bickering between them. If you’re a Kristen Wiig fan, you should also know that this movie is the first time I’ve seen Wiig in such a serious role — her character is sort of the sad, tragic figure, stuck in a loveless marriage. I kept waiting for her to break out into a mischievous smile or make one of her signature Gilly funny faces, but no such luck.
So, what did you guys think? Did you like Friends With Kids?