Just glancing at the ensemble of Friends With Kids, one might assume that the movie is just a less advertently pink sequel to Bridesmaids.  A few minutes of screen time, however, reveal that this theory is erroneous, since Chris O’Dowd is coupled with Maya Rudolph, while Kristen Wiig is paired with Jon Hamm. In the first few scenes, the film proves that it can work — though perhaps not thrive — on its own by engrossing the audience in the lives of Julie and Jason, played by Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott of “Parks and Recreation,” respectively.

Best friends since college, good girl Julie and obnoxious, philandering Jason live in the same apartment building in Manhattan. Their trendy tight-knit group of friends includes two married couples: newlyweds Missy (Wiig) and Ben (Hamm) can’t keep their hands off of each other, while Leslie (Rudolph) and Alex (O’Dowd) plan to announce to their posse that they are expecting a baby. Fast-forward four years and aside from the insignificant love lives of Julie or Jason, the situation could not be more different. Noticing that their friends’ marriages are in disarray, Julie and Jason devise a master plan. Once they reveal the scheme to the rest of the group, Alex explains to a confused Leslie, “They’re not getting together. They’re just gonna do it one time and have a kid.”  In effect, the film’s premise mimics that of When Harry Met Sally, but instead of simply asking whether or not a man and woman can maintain a platonic relationship, Friends With Kids adds the conflict of having a baby with said friend.

A nice surprise plays out as Wiig showcases her impressive range as an actress in a more serious role. That being said, the acting is what really makes the film shine.  Without Wiig’s portrayal of shame and devastation at the prospects of her marriage, Hamm’s passion-and-alcohol-fueled sermon of truth after his character’s overwhelming silence, or Rudolph and O’Dowd’s depiction of a warmer, healthier relationship, the movie would honestly not have too much to boast about. The ending is rather predictable from the onset, save for a few moments when Scott’s sardonic persona and masterfully cutting quips leave the audience slightly befuddled. Megan Fox may have even hit a career high with her role as the detached, selfish dancer actress Mary Jane, whom Jason meets and believes is “the one” shortly after Julie gives birth to his son. Meanwhile, Julie encounters Kurt (Edward Burns), a “perfect” divorced father whose height is intimidating to Jason.

Westfeldt’s performance is actually the weakest of the ensemble, but she might deserve some slack, as she also produced, directed and wrote the screenplay for the film. There are definitely some awkward moments in the script that will make you squirm or sympathize with certain characters, but on the whole, everything seems natural. The quirky, believable dialogue is respectable, and it cleverly explores the ups and downs of matrimony. Ultimately, the film offers a deeper commentary on a real dilemma that many people face today: what do you do when you aren’t willing to risk the potential pitfalls of marriage, yet don’t want to relinquish your dreams of having children of your own?

Despite the fact that Friends With Kids seems to have hijacked half the cast of Bridesmaids, this new romantic comedy is a whole different breed of film, promising both love and mild laughs without the superfluous bathroom humor.

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