MFR Rating: ★
The vacuous repetitiveness of Hollywood churned romantic comedies of which Friends With Kids belongs finds me physically grabbing for my head to check my hair is still intact as 110 minutes feels like as many months of solitary confinement, whilst being told as each month ticks by that it will be your last month, only to be told another month and another month have been added to your sentence and you’re just sitting there watching yourself age and stagnating without any hope of a better tomorrow. The worst of it is that you know exactly how solemn and empty each subsequent second will feel but all you can do is sit there and endure the tedium play out.
The genre of romantic-but-not-romantic-because-we’re-too-modern-but-ultmately-actually-romantic movies is big business. Whether we’re talking No Strings Attached or Friends With Benefits or the “Oh My God! I’m 30 which means I’m going to die alone unless I find a man to impregnate me right now” nature of What’s Your Number?, these sorts of comedies are what people want, apparently. Friends With Kids boldly merges the “let’s have a relationship but not really have a relationship” aspect of the aforementioned No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits (even ripping off the title, you have to admire the creativity) and the “Oh My God, I’m a pretty blonde female and no one is ever going to love me” aspect of What’s Your Number? and amalgamates them into something indistinguishable from what we have seen before. This time we have a group of friends consisting of 2 couples who have just had kids (played by Maya Rudolf and Chris O’Dowd, Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm – not a bad cast it must be said and all of which recently appeared in hit comedy Bridesmaids), plus a couple more friends who are singletons (Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt). The singletons become jealous of the couples and feel concerned time is running out for them to find the right person and thus decide to have a baby together. Despite being great friends they make it perfectly clear to each other that they’re just having a baby and certainly not becoming an item. Can you guess where this might go?
At the inevitable climax, one member of the “couple” says to the other: “I guess this is the romantic part and everything else was just filler”. Too bloody right, thanks for reviewing your own movie. There’s is so, so much filler in the “will they or won’t they” story, back and forth it goes, one of them wants a real relationship while the other doesn’t, then the other decides they actually do want a real relationship and the other one doesn’t and if you have any hair left which hasn’t already been pulled out then you’ve done considerably better than me. The only thing interesting about this movie is seeing Jon Hamm smile. Maybe he smiles a lot in real life, but for Mad Men fans this is a novelty and ultimately even he has no chance to save this affair. Devoid of humour, romance, charm or any effort to create anything that deviates even mildly from the supposed line of best fit. Friends With Kids is slap down the middle and as appetizing as several mildly stale, plain rice-cakes. Maybe just find something better.
Friends With Kids is out on 29th June in the UK. Running time: 107 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
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Review by David Rank