April 8, 2013

Friends With Kids (2011)

Randomly "famous" people you really need to look up like Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt, and Chris O'Dowd

I didn't expect much of this movie. For one thing, I hate Kristin Wiig (I know, I know, sacrilegious to SNL fans. While we're at it, Tina Fey bugs me too). I didn't enjoy Bridesmaids and her same drunken schtick as Cinderella single-handedly ruined The Real Housewives of Disney skit for me. For another, the name of the movie reminded me of the [utterly bewilderingly] critically acclaimed Friends With Money, where the only thing I remember is Jennifer Aniston rubbing expensive foot cream into her feet. But I obviously don't discriminate by quality in my movie choices...

Other reasons for my skepticism? The decidedly ordinary-looking nature of all the main characters (except Megan Fox, who may be absurdly stupid at times, but I'm pretty sure is universally considered to be hot). Usually I am against Hollywood casting non-attractive people (hello, I'm paying $12 to look at people I could probably see on the street?!?), but in this particular case, it works. Unlike some movies, which transport you to another place or life, this movie sucks you in and makes you believe these are your friends and this could be your life. Which is, of course, a little depressing, especially for anyone unmarried and/or without kids. (Side note on the attractiveness issue: I especially appreciate Jennifer Westfeldt's comment in the movie that she's not attractive, but just has good hair because it's 100% true and I kept thinking it right up until she said it. Bravo for not pretending she's cuter than she is.)

All those doubts and obstacles aside, the movie is good. Really good. Predictable, sure, but still good. This isn't the kind of movie you watch for the surprise at the end. Instead, you watch the ups and downs of each character as they move through the stages of life and wonder if your life is or will become that way. That's the part that makes it depressing. Of course, not everyone's life and marriage goes downhill after having kids, but this is a comedy, not a documentary. 

The best part of the movie is just how smartly funny it is. I've been accused of not appreciating comedies, which is totally untrue, by the way. I just don't appreciate lame fart jokes and/or anything involving Judd Apatow's humor. What I do like is subtle humor, which is exactly what this movie is. There doesn't need to be an accompanying laugh track to tell you what's funny or where you should laugh; the characters don't make exaggerated faces or have that obvious pause, cluing you into the fact they've just made a joke. To me, it's the difference between watching a show like Two and a Half Men and Psych. The latter (besides the benefit of never having employed Charlie Sheen) doesn't wait for you to catch up - the dialogue just keeps running and if you miss a joke, well, sorry. That makes a movie like this perhaps not a good idea for slow thinkers or those new to the English language.

Final word: I don't want to get all parent-y smug here, but I really don't see people fully appreciating this movie unless they have have kids of their own, or a lot of...wait for it...wait for it...friends with kids. Ayyy-oh!

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