Child’s play a real farce
Sharing a child is the premise for the new rom-com, writes
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?)
Maya Rudolph (right)