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Jennifer Westfeldt
Adam Scott, Kristen Wiig, Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph , Chris O'Dowd, Megan Fox, Edward Burns
Writing Credits:
Jennifer Westfeldt

Family doesn't always go according to plan.

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!

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$2.017 million on 374 screens.
Domestic Gross
$7.250 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 7/17/2012

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Actor Jennifer Westfeldt, Director of Photography William Rexer and Actor Jon Hamm
• “Making Friends with Kids” Featurette
• Ad-Libs and Bloopers
• “Scene 42: Anatomy of a Gag” Featurette
• “MJ Rocks at Video Games”
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Friends With Kids [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 17, 2012)

Today’s shocker: the fact that neither the front nor the back covers of 2012’s Friends with Kids make any reference to 2011’s Bridesmaids. The packaging musters an astonishing level of restraint given how easily it could tout the connection to the 2011 hit. After all, a whopping four of Kids’ primary cast members starred in Bridesmaids. In a PR world where they attempt to sell movies as “being from the studio that brought you…”, I’m stunned that Lionsgate did nothing to move some copies of Kids as part of the Bridesmaids gravy train.

Kids revolves around a group of 30-somethings and their social circle. None of the various couples have children – until Alex (Chris O’Dowd) and Leslie (Maya Rudolph) announce her pregnancy. Of course, they swear their social lives won’t change at all.

We launch ahead four years and discover the truth. Alex and Leslie leave Manhattan to raise their kids in Brooklyn. In addition, Ben (Jon Hamm) and Missy (Kristen Wiig) knock out a baby of their own, and youngsters dominate both couples’ lives. Instead of fancy $100 a head eateries, all involved find themselves with home-cooked meals at Alex and Leslie’s apartment.

The third couple remains single – and not just in the matrimonial sense. Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) are best pals but don’t go down a romantic path. They want to have kids but fear that if they get married to others and procreate, they’ll encounter the relationship problems they see among their friends, all of whom seem to be unhappy.

To avoid the disruptions they think kids with significant others bring, Jason creates an unusual plan: that he and Julie have a baby together to allow themselves to move on and find other partners without the pressures of impending parenthood. As Alex observes, this means they can “have a kid without all the shit that comes with marriage”. We follow the way this arrangement works – and how it affects their relationship.

If you guess how all this will end, don’t pat yourself on the back. My ardent desire to avoid spoilers means I won’t discuss the conclusion, but anyone over the age of 7 will figure out how where Jason/Julie find themselves at the movie’s finish.

Even with that sense of the inevitable hanging over it, Kids delivers a decent romantic comedy. It’s certainly a subject with which I can identify. At 45 and never married, I still want kids and have wondered if procreating with a female friend to “be done with it” and liberate my social life’s expectations would be a good idea. Based on my female friends, the answer’s “probably not”, but I must admit this concept has occurred to me. (If any of my female friends looked like Westfeldt, it’d become much more appealing!)

Kids earns points as a reasonably reality-based take on the topic. Sure, the Jason/Julie relationship seems a bit perfect and “written”; they’re such flawless “best buds” that they can come across as screen creations more than real people at times. Nonetheless, the movie gives their attempts to make an unusual circumstance work a decent sense of the real world and avoids too much obvious movie shtick.

The flick also benefits from its cast, though the presence of all those notable Bridesmaids alumni actually creates a problem. Of the six actors listed in my synopsis, only Westfeldt and Scott didn’t act in the 2011 hit. This means that when we see the other four in Kids, we expect semi-leading screen time from them, whereas they actually exist firmly in the supporting character territory.

Which would be fine – I can adjust my expectations to accept the reality that they’re not leads here. However, the movie itself seems less sure of what it wants to do with them. The Ben/Missy and Alex/Leslie stories always remain in the supporting realm but they become more prominent than one might anticipate given the flick’s overall focus on Jason/Julie. Sure, we need to view the other couples to complicate and contrast Jason/Julie, but I think we spend a bit too much time with those partners.

This means Kids ends up with both too much and too little emphasis on Alex/Leslie and Ben/Missy. On one hand, we don’t see enough of them to flesh them out in a satisfying manner, but on the other, we watch too much of them to accept them as standard supporting characters.

At least all of those actors do fine in their roles, and Westfeldt – who also wrote and directed Kids - offers nice work, too. Scott is a bit more problematic, though. In my experience, Scott tends to fare best in roles where he’s a smarmy prick. Scott brings some of that cockiness to Jason – probably a bit too much, as his natural smugness works against him. We’re supposed to like Jason and root for him, but this becomes difficult given his vaguely off-putting demeanor. We don’t actually dislike him, but Scott’s tone keeps us at arm’s length.

Despite that – and a running time that makes the film go a bit long - Friends with Kids offers a fairly enjoyable experience. It gives us an unusual perspective on kids and relationships and develops its subject matter with just enough depth and insight to make it worthwhile.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Friends with Kids appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Overall, this was a positive image.

Only a smidgen of softness ever interfered with the presentation. I noticed a few slightly ill-defined shots, but most of the movie displayed solid clarity and delineation. Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also stayed away from this clean image.

In terms of palette, Kids went with a golden tint typical of this sort of romantic comedy. Overall, the hues were fine and full. Blacks showed good depth, while low-light shots boasted nice clarity. Though I thought the image was a little below “A”-level standards, it still was more than satisfying.

Don’t expect much more than a standard romantic comedy mix from the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, though a few minor exceptions occurred. Skiing and street scenes gave us decent sense of place, but that was about it. The audio tended to be pretty restrained, so we didn’t get a lot of involvement and activity. This was fine for a movie of this sort, however, so the low-key soundfield wasn’t a detriment.

Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. Speech showed nice clarity and naturalism, and music was reasonably distinctive and dynamic. Effects lacked much to stand out, but they appeared accurate, and they showed mild punch when necessary. All of this seemed good enough for a “B-“.

As we shift to supplements, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt, director of photography William Rexer and actor Jon Hamm. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, budgetary restrictions, cast and performances, camerawork, editing, and some other filmmaking subjects.

Expect a pretty good discussion here, as the chat covers a nice variety of appropriate subjects in a lively way. Granted, it comes with more happy talk than I’d like, and Hamm’s TV announced “next time you’re in New York…” gag gets old quickly. Nonetheless, we learn quite a lot here, so this becomes a useful chat.

Making Friends with Kids provides an eight-minute, 10-second featurette with notes from Westfeldt, Hamm, and actors Adam Scott, Chris O’Dowd, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Edward Burns, and Megan Fox. The show examines story and characters, cast and performances, Westfeldt’s work as director, and the movie’s tone. Though we get a few funny comments from the actors, this is mostly superficial promotional fluff.

Under Ad-Libs and Bloopers, we get two reels: “Fun with Actors” (7:28) and “Fun with Kids” (4:27). The former gives us some bloopers but mostly consists of improv moments from the adults; it’s an entertaining compilation. “Kids” takes the more Art Linkletter approach, as it concentrates on goofiness from the child actors. I’m not fond of that kind of material.

Next comes the five-minute, six-second Scene 42: Anatomy of a Gag. This shows the sequence in which Jason and Julie tell Alex and Leslie about their decision. It shows the final version compared to the script as well as outtakes. It’s nothing special – especially since we got so much of this material from “Ad-Libs” – but it’s reasonably enjoyable. We can also watch “Anatomy” with commentary from Westfeldt, Hamm and Rexer. They give us a few decent remarks.

MJ Rocks at Video Games goes for three minutes, 49 seconds and provides more outtakes. These aren't as funny as “Scene 42”, but Megan Fox is better looking than any of the others, so her presence compensates. More commentary from Westfeldt, Hamm and Rexer finishes the piece with additional thoughts about the scene.

Eight Deleted Scenes fill a total of eight minutes, 17 seconds. Most of these act as extensions, so don’t expect much with no connection to sequences in the final flick. Nonetheless, the various clips are usually pretty good. It was pretty appropriate to cut them – the final flick already runs a bit long – but on their own, they entertain.

We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from Westfeldt, Hamm and Rexer. They give us some production notes about the sequences as well as why the clips got the boot. The commentary offers useful info about the deleted scenes.

The disc opens with ads for One for the Money, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Casa de mi Padre, The Switch and Girl in Progress. These show up under Also from Lionsgate as well, but we don’t get the trailer for Kids.

While it never manages to become anything truly special, Friends with Kids has enough going for it to become satisfying. It delivers a quirky look at relationships that comes with reasonable wit and charm. The Blu-ray provides very good picture, adequate audio and a fairly positive package of bonus materials. This winds up as a quality Blu-ray for an interesting movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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