A pair of Manhattan BFFs — Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) — are dismayed to see what parenthood has done to their coupled friends (Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd, and Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig, respectively). Drunkenly, the pair sort out that kids are great, but ruin romances. So why not have a kid together, but stay friends only, enabling each to pursue the romantic perfect people they should really share a life with? (It's Friends With Benefits: The Kid Edition.) This can only end in tears ... or marriage.
Westfeldt writes and directs, and corrals a good stable of comic actors (including three stars of Bridesmaids). And the territory is fertile: The social dramas of friends of friends-who-have-kids is worthy of some trenchant humor and observation. Westfeldt's story definitely has some wry and even ugly moments, but nothing much breaks through the familiar tropes about harried parents, carefree swingles and adorable babies.
I was hopeful that we might finally see a film that rejected the boy + girl + baby = family paradigm, in the interest of exploring other sorts of adult relationships. Friends flirts with realness (the unpleasantness that accompanies relationships, particularly those rooted in poor decisions and poor communication), but ultimately chickens out in favor of being a rom-com that moves — like its protagonists — from Manhattan to Fort Greene, Brooklyn (for the kids, of course). That said, this is a mostly well-written, frequently funny film that is considerably more adult in tone than the average will-they-or-won't-they cute romance. Starts Fri., March 9.