In Friends with Kids, Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) decide to have a child together while keeping their relationship platonic, so they can avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships.
I have read so much good press for this movie (perhaps no one wants to get on the bad side of handsome Jon Hamm who is one of the film’s producers) that I am beginning to wonder if I am the only one who sees all the flaws in this movie.
1. Kids as romance killers: Julie and Jason may not have a love to go awry because of son Joe, but what exactly do they think is going to happen to their relationships with the “other people” they start seeing when Joe needs/wants something (as children always do) in the middle of a date, or when their paramour wants to whisk them away for a lusty weekend, but that’s his or her turn to take the little one to a birthday party? If you’re a parent who puts the child first, your love life, whether or not it’s with the child’s other parent, will be affected. So Jason and Julie are not getting away with anything or around the system.
2. 2. Kids are not the problem: However they are easy to blame. They’re little and can’t verbally defend themselves. It is not their newborn’s fault that the characters played by Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig are not in love. One is led to believe they never were. They were in lust though. When that flame burns out, as it so often does, and a couple realizes they have nothing else to keep them together they move on. The fact that these two stay together so he can drink and they can snipe, well, I think that’s their problem, no?
3. Sometimes your friends, aren’t: You may go out to fun places and laugh at the same jokes, but isn’t a real friend someone who’s happy for you when you share news, as opposed to someone so egocentric that they make whatever is happening to you about them? When the couple played by Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd get pregnant, Jason and Julie look offended. How can their friends move to a new phase in their lives? What are they supposed to do? They're going to be neglected now. Again, you can’t blame kids for this kind of immaturity and insecurity.
4. It’s OK to move on: Rudolph and O’Dowd move to Brooklyn and their home looks like a Toys ‘r’ Us. They don’t have the time or interest (or energy) to keep living the “about town” life. In some circles, this is called normal not abandonment (of other adults who are supposed to be living their own lives.)
5. If the non-traditional version of family is just as productive, satisfying, and valid as the traditional one, why do Joe’s parents not prove it in the end by making their platonic parenting work?
In interviews, Westfeldt is saying that her own friends with kids are giving the film a thumbs up for accuracy. Perhaps these are the same people she relies upon to tell her that the hair salon didn’t mess up her cut and the bangs look really cute.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novel, FAT CHICK.