You may have heard the expression ‘Cut And Shut’. It refers to the dubious practice of taking the undamaged front of a car that’s been rear-ended and welding it to the back of a car that’s been in a head-on collision.
It’s appallingly dangerous, and not a little bit illegal. It’s not a good idea to do that with movies, either.
Friends With Kids starts out like one of those fast-talking New York thirtysomething ensemble comedies. You know, the ones where where the dialogue is so highly caffeinated it all sounds funny even if some of it actually isn’t.
That covers the Friends part. The Kids come in a little later.
The group of six friends is made up of two couples, and two singles that we sort of think should be getting together in classic romcom style. The two singles, the focus of the story, are the two least well-known actors in the movie.
One of the couples is made up of Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd from Bridesmaids and..er…Bridesmaids respectively. Both do a decent job, although O’Dowd’s American accent wanders up and down the US East Coast throughout the film.
The other couple are also Bridesmaids alumni: a somewhat underused Kirsten Wiig and John Hamm – who totally didn’t get the job because he’s one of the most handsome and well-respected actors of his generation and is only there because he is the main squeeze of writer, director and star Jennifer Westfeldt.
It’s shallow, and hardly fair to base our opinion of a movie on how much you like the way one actor looks. In this case though I’m afraid its inescapable. Jennifer Westfeldt looks pretty normal in everyday life. In this film she has been made up to look like Lisa Kudrow in the grip of a major allergy attack. It’s weird, and not a little distracting.
The male lead is Adam Scott, who you may remember from such films as When Harry Met Sally 2.
In the first reel or so, things progress more or less as you might expect. The two couples have kids, hilarious baby shenanigans ensue, and the two singles decide they might as well pair off and have a child together as platonic friends.
So far, so standard. But then something happens.
I’ve been wondering about what that something was. Perhaps finance dried up and then production went on hiatus until the success of Bridesmaids made the Friends With Kids cast a hot ticket?
No idea. But just after the half-way mark writer/director Westfeldt changes direction abruptly.
Crashing through the cinematic gears between Friends, Bridesmaids and When Harry Met Sally, she briefly shifts into The Ice Storm while John Hamm’s dialogue revs dangerously high.
Ed Burns, who had been a more conventional romantic interest for Westfeldt’s character, disappears from the movie with no real explanation.
And everything gets messy and far darker-toned for a bit. John Hamm goes spectacularly off the rails and turns into Don Draper.
Oh and Megan Fox pops in, looks ravishing and perfect for about ten minutes, and then bails out.
The action of the movie is spread over six or seven years, but in that time none of the characters convincingly mature, or even age. Adam Scott even keeps the same ringtone for the better part of a decade.
Friends With Kids is released in the UK in June. I’m interested to see how it’s marketed. I suspect they’ll go for the Bridesmaids R-rated comedy dollar.
Don’t get sucked in. This one has unreliable handling, dangerous cornering, and is likely to end in a car crash.