Friends with Kids (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
July 13, 2012 by Dennis Amith
“Friends with Kids” was a different type of relationship comedy that explores single friends and their reaction to their friends, couples who have children. Concentrating on the changes these couples go through after having a child. Not many films explore that and that is what I enjoyed “Friends with Kids” a lot! “Friends with Kids” is an honest, delightful, touching comedy that I easily recommend on Blu-ray!
BLU-RAY TITLE: Friends with Kids
MOVIE RELEASE DATE: 2011
DURATION: 107 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 Aspect Ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English and Spanish
RATED: R (Sexual Content and Language)
DVD RELEASE DATE: July 17, 2012
Directed and written by Jennifer Westfeldt
Produced by Joshua Astrachan, Riza Aziz, Lucy Barzun Donnelly, Jon Hamm, Jake Kasdan, Joey McFarland, Jennifer Westfeldt
Co-Producer: Kathryn Dean
Executive Producer: Joe Gatta, Mike Nichols, John Sloss
Associate Producer: Christine H. Kim, Missy Yager
Music by Marcelo Zarvos
Cinematography by William Rexer
Edited by Tara Timpone
Casting by Tiffany Little Canfield, Bernard Telsey, David Vaccari
Production Design by Ray Kluga
Set Decoration by Nicole Duryea
Costume Design by Melissa Bruning
Adam Scott as Jason Fryman
Jennifer Westfeldt as Julie Keller
Jon Hamm as Ben
Kristen Wiig as Missy
Maya Rudolph as Leslie
Chris O’Dowd as Alex
Megan Fox as Mary Jane
Edward Burns as Kurt
Lee Bryant as Elaine Keller
Kelly Bishop as Marcy Fryman
Cotter Smith as Phil Fryman
Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Jon Hamm star alongside Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott in is a daring and hilarious ensemble comedy about a close-knit circle of friends whose lives change once they have kids. The last two singles in the group (Westfeldt and Scott) observe the effect that kids have had on their friends’ relationships and wonder if there’s a better way to make it work. When they decide to have a child together – and date other people, their unconventional ‘experiment’ leads everyone in the group to question the nature of friendship, family and, above all, true love. Also starring Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox and Edward Burns, Friends With Kids delivers the laughs and the heart from beginning to end!
Actress Jennifer Westfeldt may be known for her roles in the film “Kissing Jessica Stein”, “”Keep Your Distance” and TV series such as “24″ and “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place”, but in the 2011 ensemble comedy, Westfeldt also functions as the film’s director, writer and producer.
The film was inspired when both Jennifer and her partner, actor Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”, “Sucker Punch”) noticed that friends who started to have families would slowly disappear from their lives. So, Jennifer went on to craft the screenplay and “Friends with Kids” would eventually be created.
“Friends with Kids” would star Jennifer, Hamm, Adam Scott (“Step Brothers”, “Aviator”, “Knocked Up”), Kristen Wiig (“Bridesmaids”, “Saturday Night Live”), Maya Rudolph (“Bridesmaids”, “Saturday Night Live”), Chris O’Dowd (“Bridesmaids”, “Pirate Radio”, “The IT Crowd”), Megan Fox (“Transformers”, “Jennifer’s Body”, “Jonah Hex”) and Edward Burns (“Saving Private Ryan”, “The Brothers McMullen”, “She’s the One”).
“Friends with Kids” revolves around Jason (as portrayed by Adam Scott) and his best friend Julie (as portrayed by Jennifer Westfeldt), best friends who live in the same building in Manhattan. And the two were close with two couples, Ben (as portrayed by Jon Hamm) and his wife Missy (as portrayed by Kristen Wiig) and Alex (As portrayed by Chris O’Dowd) and his wife Leslie (as portrayed by Maya Rudolph).
Seeing how their friends are starting their own families and seeing their marriage begin to suffer, Jason and Julie decide that since they are friends and are not romantically involved, why not have a child together and then decide to date other people. Of course, their friends think the idea is insane and predict that this will end up in disaster, but both Jason and Julie want to give it a try, because since they are best friends and not romantically attracted to each other, no way will they be like their friends. And also to see if having a child would help lead them to the person they want to marry.
And so, Jason and Julie eventually have a son named Joe together and both share their child and become loving parents to him.
But what happens when the close friendship of Jason and Julie is tested when Jason meets Broadway dancer Mary Jane (as portrayed by Megan Fox) and Julie starts going out with Kurt (as portrayed by Edward Burns). For Mary Jane, she is not interested in having kids and for Kurt, he does not want Julie meeting his children until their relationship becomes serious.
But as time moves on and Jason is in a happy relationship with Mary Jane and he feels that things are good between his best friend Julie and her boyfriend Kurt, when Jason arrives to Julie’s birthday dinner, he find out that he is the only person attending.
Julie surprises Jason, telling him that she is in love with him and that together with their son, they are family to her. But since the two were never in a romantic relationship and he is in love with Mary Jane, how will Jason respond to Julie’s emotional revelation?
“Friends with Kids” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The picture quality of this independent film is rather good. Colors are vibrant when they need to be, scenes are well-lit and skin tones are natural and black levels are nice and deep. The details are good during character close-ups but overall, the film looks very good on Blu-ray. I saw no artifacting, no sign of excessive DNR, “Friends with Kids” looks great!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Friends with Kids” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. As one would expect from a relationship comedy, the film is dialogue driven. Dialogue is crystal clear (as with its musical soundtrack) through the center and front channels. While there are some scenes with ambiance and utilizing the surround channels, the lossless soundtrack is primarily dialogue.
Subtitles are in English and Spanish.
“Friends with Kids” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm and cinematographer William Rexer.
- Making “Friends with Kids” - (8:10) Interview with director/writer/producer/actress Jennifer Westfeldt and the cast of “Friends with Kids”.
- Adlibs and Bloopers – (11:55) Featuring outtakes with the actors and the actors with children.
- Scene 42: Anatomy of a Gag – (5:06) The only scene which allowed for improv, featuring optional audio commentary with Jennifer Westfeldt and Jon Hamm.
- MJ Rocks at Video Games – (3:49) A featurette of scene showing how good Megan Fox is at video games (And how bad Adam Scott is with video games) with optional audio commentary with Jennifer Westfeldt and Jon Hamm.
- Story – Featuring an intro by Laurie Metcalf (1:01) and the trailer of the film “Treasure Planet” was inspired from, “Treasure Island” (2:08)
- Deleted Scenes – (8:17) Featuring eight deleted scenes with optional commentary by Jennifer Westfeldt and Jon Hamm.
For anyone in their adult years, those who have had this unique circle of friends and started to see them disappear, this is the life of a married couple with children.
“Friends with Kids” is a film inspired by Jennifer Westfeldt and Jon Hamm’s own personal experience of seeing their friends disappear because they went on to start their own family. But what is most intriguing about the film is how it’s honest about showcasing these friends who have their lives change because of children. Some for the good, some for the worst.
Typically in films, we see the happy couple with children or those who divorce because of mid-life crisis or some sort of banality that we are use to seeing so many times in cinema. But what I enjoyed about “Friends with Kids” is getting to the nitty gritty of the situation. Situations that many of us probably have seen with friends, friends’ friends or family members.
In the film, Jennifer Westfeldt as Julie Keller and Adam Scott as Jason Fryman, are two best friends who see their friends disappear because of children.
Leslie (as portrayed by Maya Rudolph) and Alex (as portrayed by Chris O’Dowd) are examples of two people in love who are tested with the responsibilities of children. And this is one, where I know many people have seen and that is two people are good-natured people, transform into emotional (and often angry) people. It’s important for me to say that as there are many people who are loving parents and love having children, there is the juxtaposition of those who become loving parents, but are stressed out and and angry parents. And no doubt, the introduction of children to a loving couple can bring them closer together or drive them apart. This couple is naturally angry after having children, but yet they try to make things work.
Meanwhile, there is Missy (as portrayed by Kristen Wiig) and her husband Ben (as portrayed by Jon Hamm), this couple were the silent couple. The couple you would think would stay in love forever. They are also a couple who are passionate and were very sexual towards each other. And this is another case that brings out the memories of Al Bundy of “Married with Children” that children can easily stifle a sexual relationship for some couples. In this case, Ben becomes sexually frustrated because his wife is no longer the same woman that would have sex anywhere they go. Now having a child, she is more reserved and not wanting to have it as much.
In most movies, you would see the man have an affair because he isn’t getting any. But “Friends with kids” is quite good in showing that buildup of frustration that Ben starts to have towards his wife because she is no longer the sexual plaything that she once was before having a child. It’s a very manly perspective of things but its real. I’ve seen, many people have seen it but it’s also a divide between how men and women think. For women, having to have a baby in them for nine months and seeing bringing this new baby into the world but also having changes within their own physical bodies, there is a transformation for some women. And for men, many don’t go through what the women have experienced and so, they think that life can resume as it once was before.
As a married man with a child, it’s the first thing I get asked about from guy friends who just have had a child. No it’s not questions about the baby (which usually comes up later when the baby is sick, teething or fighting sleep), but the question guys ask are “will sex be the same?”, “when should I start asking my wife when to have sex right after having a baby?”. Always questions about sex after childbirth, followed by the frustrated husband, the guy friends, asking me if its natural to not have sex with their wives as much after childbirth.
So, “Friends with Kids” is interesting because it explores relationships with couples that have children.
But before one thinks that this is a film about couples not doing well after having a child, this is where the protagonists Jason and Julie come in. While the concept of best friends having sex to have a child, having mutual love for each other but not romantically attracted towards each other, may seem a bit farfetched. For this film and in the context of this film, it works.
I don’t know how many times I have met friends, a man and woman, who are best friends and have so much in common, that they are not in relationship. Jason and Julie are that type. Granted, I know no friends, that were this close, having a baby with each other but I do know it does happen, it is plausible and the performance of Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott feels natural. The chemistry is good, both work well with each other and its rather fascinating because Westfeldt is wearing many hats in this film as an actress, director, writer and producer.
And while I enjoyed the film, I also found it fascinating that four cast members of “Bridesmaids” are in this film and it does feature a pretty solid cast. Yes, Megan Fox is in this film, yes she does play the sexy character role but she does a good job playing the girlfriend of Jason, but not into kids at all. Edward Burns plays the boyfriend of Julie, which was a more subdued character role that was necessary to show that both Jason and Julie are dating or having relationships despite having a child together.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality and lossless audio quality was good for a relationship comedy. Dialogue and music was crystal clear and as for special features, there are a good number of them. And it was great to hear how passionate Jennifer Westfeldt and her husband, actor Jon Hamm were in making this film.
Overall, “Friends with Kids” was a different type of relationship comedy that explores single friends and their reaction to their friends, couples who have children. Concentrating on the changes these couples go through after having a child. Not many films explore that and that is what I enjoyed “Friends with Kids” a lot!
“Friends with Kids” is an honest, delightful, touching comedy that I easily recommend on Blu-ray!
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