Child’s play a real farce

Shar­ing a child is the premise for the new rom-com, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY MOVIES -

PRE­VI­OUSLY clever, en­ter­tain­ing and funny, mar­rieds Les­lie (Maya Ru­dolph) and Alex (Chris O’Dowd) are now an­gry, ir­ri­ta­ble and prone to fall­ing asleep at the ta­ble. Are they suf­fer­ing from dis­ease? De­pres­sion? Un­em­ploy­ment? Satanic pos­ses­sion? No, worse: they have a kid.

In Friends With Kids, their pals Julie and Ja­son (Jen­nifer West­feldt, Adam Scott), best buds who aren’t at­tracted to each other, vow never to be like Les­lie and Alex. But would it be kind of cool to have a kid with­out the grim per­ma­nence of mar­riage? They de­cide to hook up, have a child and split the baby-rear­ing (they live in dif­fer­ent apart­ments in the same build­ing) while each goes on to live the care­free sin­gle life.

Credit West­feldt, who is also the writer and direc­tor, with a clas­sic set-up for farce, brightly ex­e­cuted. Peo­ple think ro­man­tic come­dies are easy. They aren’t. Con­sider the old gag about how sim­ple it would be to do stand-up: All you have to do is say, ‘‘Good evening, ladies and gen­tle­men! Joke, joke. Where you from? Joke, joke, joke, joke. You’ve been a great au­di­ence! Joke, joke.’’

West­feldt, who co-wrote and starred in the beguil­ing Kiss­ing Jes­sica Stein in 2001, and th­ese days seems bet­ter-known as Mad Men star Jon Hamm’s paramour, comes up with a gen­uinely sharp script wor­thy of Se­in­feld, full of punchy one-lin­ers and clue-ful in­sights on dat­ing, New York and par­ent­hood. For all the hi­lar­i­ous, raunchy talk and con­tem­po­rary feel, though, in the sec­ond half the movie gets stuck in some well­worn When Harry and Sally meets Par­ent­hood grooves.

More­over, things take a need­lessly harsh de­tour in the sec­ond half (which ends with one of the most charm­less clos­ing lines ever ut­tered in a rom-com).

The dark sub-plot in­volves a third cou­ple of friends played by Hamm and Kris­ten Wiig (didn’t they learn any­thing from their bad mojo in Brides­maids?)

opens today.

Maya Ru­dolph (right)

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