Friends With Kids: Jennifer Westfield’s Serio-Comedy

A good cast of comedic actors (some of them grads of the hit comedy “Bridemaids”) make Friends with Kids, writer-director Jennifer Westfield’s uneven serio-comedy.

The movie, which deals with friendships and relationships among a group of upper-middle class members, is sporadically witty, and occasionally even timely and relevant to the way we live now.

The aptly titled “Friends with Kids” unfolds as a tale of three couples, each forced to come with mid-life (and menopause, male and female) in its own way.

First couple are Jason and Julie (Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt), single thirty-something Manhattanites, who have been best friends since college.  They live in the same building, claim to trust each other implicitly and explicitly (and mean that), and know that romance is out of the question because they presumably are not attracted to each other.

In the beginning of the story, Jason and Julie meet at a chic downtown restaurant for a dinner with their closest friends, two married couples,  LESLIE and ALEX (Maya Rudolph and Chris O’ Dowd), who are funny and frank, and BEN and MISSY (Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig), a pair that flaunt their sexuality and attraction to each other in public; they are not beyond having a quickie in the restaurant bathroom before Julie and Jason arrive.

What unites the sextet is brightness, alertness, and humor, manifest in wit and sharp observational powers.  Thus, when Jason notices the behavior of unruly children being seated at a close-by table, he and Julie begin to riff on how inappropriate it is to bring kids to such a sophisticated place.

Their comic rant is cut short, however, when Leslie suddenly announces that she is expecting. Shocked (perhaps even mortified) and threatened, Julie and Jason congratulate their friends earnestly.  It’s considered to be some sort of event; after all, they are their close friends to take the plunge. Leslie and Alex reassure them that they would never ever bring their kids to a fancy restaurant.  Unlike most parents, they declare, they are not going to change—they are determined to become cool parents, just as they were cool husband and wife and cool friends.

Cool and chic are words that figure out prominently in “Friends with Kids,” which is most suitable considering the affluent and privileged lives they all live

The yarn then jumps forward to four years later, with a smart and clever chronicle of the lives of the six friends and how they have changed over time.  They are now fortysomething, rather than thirtysomething, and it makes a difference.

Leslie and Alex have two kids, Missy and Ben have a newborn, and Jason and Julie, still single and childless (or is it childfree).

Main event takes place on Jason’s birthday, at Alex and Leslie’s apartment in Brooklyn. It turns out that Julie has brought the only birthday gift for Jason!  Upon arrival, the mood of the party is not festive or funny—to say the least.  Their friends are arguing and sniping at each other, and despite intents and statements to the contrary, they are endlessly harried and utterly consumed by the demands of being, yes, full-time parents.