Friday, July 20, 2012

DVDebut FRIENDS WITH KIDS: Catching up with another juicy Jennifer Westfeldt film

Truth be told, Kissing Jessica Stein, Ira & Abby and FRIENDS WITH KIDS are not all totally Jennifer Westfeldt films. The first one she co-wrote, co-produced and co-starred in; the second she wrote, co-starred in and executive-produced; it's only with this latest delight, Fw/K, as we'll call it, that she has stepped into the director's chair (sat in, actually -- though it's difficult to imagine this woman ever taking the time to sit down), in addition to writing the script, co-producing and being a major part of the large acting ensemble. Clearly Ms Westfeldt (the multi-hyphenate is shown below) can do it all -- and do it well.

Fw/K sets out to show the current state of New York City-based 30-somethings -- as they move from newly marrieds into newly parenting -- and as such hits a lot of nails squarely on their heads, making us laugh while simultaneous-ly squirming a bit at the truthfulness of the vari-ous situations, exaggera-ted (only a tad) as they are. So smoothly, in fact, has this filmmaker/per-former made the transi-tion into directing that I doubt you'll find many noticeable differences between the films in terms of how each one's style fit its content. All three work beautifully--  I&A and Fw/K particularly well, Kissing JS well enough, considering it's a nearly first-time venture for some of the major participants.

Westfeldt has a splendid knack for dialog. In her hands, the verbiage isn't simply funny (though it's plenty of that), it also helps build character, situation and place, as it rolls merrily along. The semi-scatalogical banter that falls from the lips of these characters as they interact (less so, naturally, once their kids are old enough to understand and repeat that banter) seems at once real, funny and character/place specific.

The plot, such as it is, consists of two smart, charming, decent people -- each a BFF to the other -- keeping themselves out of each other's romantic reach for as long as humanly (not to mention movie-ly) possible. The lengths to which they go is what sets Fw/K apart from other modern parenting movies. This pair is played by Westfeldt and Adam Scott (above, right) and they make a wonderfully muddled twosome.

Their two sets of friends are brought to life by Maya Rudolph (above, left) and Chris O'Dowd (above, right) and by Kristen Wiig (below, left) and Jon Hamm (below, right: everyone's favorite Mad Man, and in real life, Mr. Westfeldt).

These two couples get less screen time than our hero/heroine, but they use what they have well enough to show us the ups and downs of marriage and family, while off and on making us laugh (some times more darkly than others: Hamm channels a bit of Don Draper here).

Also into the mix bound Edward Burns, below, as the Westfeldt character's new squeeze, and Megann Fox (above) as that of Mr. Scott. Both fit into things just fine, helping bring it all to fruition. Some audiences may have a problem with the heavy-duty R-rated dialog, but I suspect that any young, relatively successful urban dweller will probably go with it all the way. The final line, which I cannot print here, is as dirty as anything to come out of the mouth of a modern-day movie minx. That it should also strike you as funny, deeply felt and romantic as hell simply shows what a marvel Ms Westfeldt truly is.

Fw/K -- from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions and out this week on DVD and Blu-ray -- is available now for sale or rental from the usual suspects.

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