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Featured DVD / Blu-ray Review: Friends with Kids

July 16th, 2012

Friends with Kids - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Friends with Kids had a lot of pre-release buzz, especially for a limited release. It was written, directed, and starred Jennifer Westfeldt. It also stars Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, and others. It opened in several hundred theaters, but it only did okay business during its opening weekend and its per theater average sunk the second week. Granted, it made more than $7 million during its run, which is a great number for a limited release, but below expectations. Is the film's quality the same? Is it good, but below expectations?

The Movie

The film begins with Julie Keller calling Jason Fryman. They've been best friends forever, the kind that will call each other in the middle of the night and questions like, "How would you rather die? Shark or Alligator?" The next day they have dinner with two couples, Leslie & Alex and Missy & Ben. Leslie and Alex have an announcement to make: They are pregnant. They promise nothing will change.

Flash forward four years, and things have changed. Leslie & Alex have a son while Missy & Ben have an infant child of their own. The six friends haven't all been together since Missy and Ben had a child. The dinner is a disaster and after the Julie and Jason go to a bar and get to talking about how kids change their relationship and how it would be better to have a kid before you meet the person you want to spend your life together with. After talking about this over several days, they finally decide to do it. They will have a kid together, split the duties 50/50 while looking for their true love elsewhere. They explain it to their friends, most of whom think it is a terrible idea, and go with the 'alcohol-fueled hook-up' method of getting pregnant.

At first their plan seems to work. They are able to balance raising their child with other work and social lives, much to the horror of their friends. It is going so well that Julie starts to think that maybe Jason might be "the one". Unfortunately, Jason has met another woman, Mary Jane, a dancer. This sends Julie into a bit of a spin, until Leslie sets her up with Kurt, a divorced father. For a while it looks like both of them will follow the plan exactly how they envisioned it. But if that were the case, the movie would only be half as long.

Friends with Kids is a good romantic comedy, but I get the feeling that the filmmakers were aiming for more. I get the impression they were hoping for a Bridesmaids / Judd Apatow level examination of relationships. The film does have some of the same strengths of those films, including some very strong dialogue. The cast, which includes several members of Bridesmaids, nails the delivery. However, while the dialogue is witty, it does have a manufactured sense to it. This is also true of the overall plot. Having a kid without becoming a couple is something the pair might say while drinking at a bar after a particularly bad dinner party, but once they sober up, they should have realized better. But they needed to do it, in order for the plot to advance. Once the plot does get moving, it does fall for a few too many of the typical RomCom clich├ęs, but this won't put off fans of the genre, as the two leads have enough charisma and chemistry to compensate. It is also worth checking out if you are a fan of some of the cast members, and there are plenty of actors involved to like.

Overall, it is worth checking out, but I think there's a great movie buried underneath a good movie.

The Extras

Extras start with an audio commentary track with Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, and William Rexer. (He's the Cinematographer.) There's also optional audio commentary on the deleted scenes, as well as two short behind the scenes featurettes: Anatomy of a Gag and MJ Rocks at Video Games. There was a lot of improvisation in the movie, so we see the alternate lines before they were cut down for the movie. Speaking of improv, there's 12 minutes of outtakes / alternative lines. Finally, there's an 8-minute making of featurette.

I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, but it costs less than the DVD does on, so you can't argue with that price.

The Verdict

Friends with Kids is a good movie and one that is worth checking out. It's perhaps not as strong I was anticipating. The DVD and Blu-ray have plenty of extras and are easily worth picking up, while the latter is currently cheaper than the former, making it the better deal.

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Filed under: Video Review, Friends with Kids