8 Jun 2012

Friends with Kids

I am not about to regale everyone with tales about my friends with kids but to give you a quick review of the recent film entitled 'Friends with Kids'. There are "spoilers" so if you don't want to have the surprise ruined...look away now! I should also add that I am sarcastic but not without due cause.

Why I decided to go and see this movie


The film is out on general release in the UK today (08/06/12) and my friend had FREE tickets to see it last night. I had heard briefly about the film, and the title alone was enough to tell me that I didn't want to see it, but I knew that this film would be something that my sister would enjoy. As my friend had offered me the tickets I decided to go with my sister (who has kids!).

The Trailer



I watched the trailer yesterday morning in order to get an idea as to what the film was about. I couldn't just assume that it would be bad based on its title, right?! A good example of that is Cougar Town. I love that show, but would never have watched it if my friend hadn't insisted I give it a try. Like any self-respecting woman I was put off by the title and premise that was advertised. I turns out it was only a single episode that linked to the shows title. Anyway, that's a tangent I hadn't scheduled to go off on...the trailer didn't fill me with any curiosity or burning desire to see it. In actual fact I was thinking that I would rather sit through Cabin in the Woods again as opposed to seeing this film. I should add that **shock confession** I am not a fan of Cabin in the Woods.

A summary of what sort of happened

There are a six friends, two are happily married with a child, two are happily married without children and are always having sex and two are not together but are single and good friends.  I think the movie begins with the single man called Jason getting a phone call from the single woman called Julie. Both are in bed with other people. This is the point that the viewer gets to learn that Jason is a womanizer with commitment issues and that Jules is looking for the one but still needs sex occasionally whilst she looks. Jules also has a game that she plays with Jason which I shall affectionately call 'Ways to die', whereby she gives Jason two options and he has to pick one. For all intense and purposes the writers have set Jason up in the gay best friend role but without being gay. So, these two are talking one night and decide that they both want children and agree that it would be so much easier to have a child with someone if you didn't have the complications of a relationship (after they notice their friends with kids are all miserable, shouty and mean...you still with me?! Not fallen into a coma yet then?)...and they decide eventually that they would be great parents together, they have sex (just the once mind) and hey presto after that one night of passion we are whisked nine months down the line with Jules pushing out a baby boy who they call Joe. Get it, get it? Jason, Julie and Joe - awwww, bleugh! Maybe I should have mentioned my MCD - movie cynicism disorder. Anyway, as you may have guessed - if you haven't then you really don't watch movies do you? - but they both date and meet prospective long term partners, four years later realise they are in love with each other and then get together. Whilst their friends Lesley and Alex have had another child and are happy enough together, and their other friends someone played by Kristen Wiig and someone played by Jon Hamm broke up. 

What annoyed me about this film

Where do I start? Seriously, where...do...I...start! A list is going to be the easiest way to share the annoyances...

Firstly

Jason (Adam Scott) who is a womanizer, even though he isn't all that and a bag of chips, uses the word 'doll' in every sentence, for example;
  1. Hey doll, how was work?
  2. Don't ask so many questions doll.
This annoyed me the first time he said it, but every time he opened his mouth a doll fell out (that doesn't sound right, hmm), and five minutes in I just wanted to punch him in the face the next time he said it. Extreme I know, and in reality I would have just nodded and smiled, but it is the 21st century and that film was set in NYC and he wasn't an aging crooner.

Secondly

The friends were supposed to be a year apart in age, and that age being (at the start of the film's story) mid-thirties and by the end in their late-thirties, and was only believable of Adam Scott, Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd. Jennifer Westfeldt looked about mid-late forties as did Mr. Hamm and Ms. Wiig was hovering around the early forties mark. I have just googled Jennifer and she is 42 (so now I feel a bit bad), Hamm is 41, Wiig is 38, O'Dowd is 32 , Scott is 38, and Rudolph is 39. Wow! Anyway, that wasn't my issue about the age, there was a moment in the film when the friends of Jason and Jules were discussing the reasons that they thought their friends wanted to have a child together. Obviously, Jules is old and needs to have a kid now or she will be too old to later. Yes, they brought up that window of Procreatunity! They also said that maybe Jason feels sorry for her, because she is so old (mid-thirties) and he wants to help her out. After all, he can have kids anytime. You should be so proud of me for not walking out - or maybe not, I should have.

Thirdly

Continuity. I know that they do their best, but usually if you are looking for continuity errors then you have to google them and find some film obsessive who has found them, and named and shamed them This film just made them obvious. 
  1. At one point, Jules picks up her son Joe to take him to bed, when she picks him up he is wearing one sock, when she leaves the room he is wearing two again.
  2. Jason is carrying Joe and his T-shirt has gotten all bunched up and for the most part it stays that way, as a conversation goes back and forth between Jason and Jules and then it is all neat and tidy. I guess the baby sorted himself out - 8 month olds are liable to do that, don't you know!
  3. A disturbing scene with a screaming baby with explosive diarrhea, Jason's young girlfriend (Megan Fox) is in the doorway, he is trying to mop up some of the poo as he changes the baby's nappy - which  may I add has no poo in it, or alternatively it was thrown away already, which you wouldn't do with a screaming child who is clinging on to you, you would keep mopping and add to the pile and then throw it away, surely? Anyway, when you see Jason cleaning the baby Joe, Joe is clinging on to his shirt but from the doorway when you are looking in from the girlfriends view, the baby is not holding on to him, and then he is, and then he isn't, oh! wait he is, oh no...he isn't.
  4. A supposed moving scene in the last five minutes where Jason is declaring his eternal and everlasting love for Jules, he is very passionate and his eyes fill with tears and then we see Jules welling up, and then in a split second we see Jason dry eyed and having to well up from scratch again.
I am sure there are more that I just didn't notice.

Fourthly

There were a lot of references to the tightness/sagginess of Julies vagina after the baby. It wasn't just one conversation - which would have been funny enough - but several times which was just too funny, actually, it really wasn't. Hilariously, there was a fair bit of focus on Jules getting back to her pre-baby body - running etc, and even a moment where she asks Jason if he thinks she is ok to get naked in front of anyone yet and reveals her body...his reply, maybe in two or more weeks, five maximum. Hilarious stuff!  

Fifthly

The introduction of new partners is pretty much a walking talking cliche ridden section of the movie. I understand that you cant avoid stereotypes and cliches after all they exist, but sometimes I do wish that there could be just one character in a movie who was human. So Jules new love interest is a divorced man of equal age with children and a good job, also attractive and is played by Edward Burns and Jason's new love interest is a much younger, very beautiful successful west end dancer/actress, who performs gymnastic feats in the bedroom, wows on the stage and is his perfect woman (which he lovingly tells us earlier in the film is a woman with big tits!), this character was played by **shocking casting decision** Megan Fox! 

Sixthly

There were a lot of references to Law, which seemed completely out of place as she was an assistant working for a wealthy man who wanted to donate to charity and she got t o assess applications, and he was in advertising. What!! I know what you're thinking, that she is this demure kind hearted woman who is trying to do some good and he is a womanising advertising exec and how completely stereotyped that is, but I think you should focus on the positive thinking outside the box that has gone on here....they didn't cast Jon Hamm in the role!

Seventhly

The film has a restaurant scene at the beginning and a similar scene occurred towards the end, and it was to do with people (parents) taking their small children to fancy restaurants in the evenings. It was pointless and added no value to the film - especially as what was supposed to be about friends with kids was really about friendship turning into love, although I wonder if they would have got together if they hadn't had a child together - they hadn't in the previous 19 years of best friendship.

Eighthly

Final point to be made here...Jules realises that she is in love with Jason and eventually she tells him, he rejects her, she is heartbroken and moves away but maintains a friendly relationship for the benefit of their son Joe. A year or so later, Jason realises that he has been a fool and that he loves Julie, after all and I quote 'she is like a part of me, a part of my body, a limb or something' and goes to her house and reveals that he has realised that he loves her, and no its not because he is lonely or desperate. Julie does womankind proud by rejecting him but he has unnerved her. He leaves and then decides to go back. He turns up at her door again, banging and ringing bells (even though the kid is in bed!) and she lets him in - he declares his love once again and does she tell him to get lost, that he cant just expect her to be available physically and emotionally whenever he is ready, that whatever she felt for him last year has changed and she has moved on and he needs to too, OF COURSE NOT!!! she welcomes him into her arms after a very romantic gesture WARNING: sensitive types stop reading now before you get swept up in it all, the romantic gesture being...

I want to fu*k the sh*t out of you!


Now, my sister claims that I am a harsh critic but I'm not - I watch enough rubbish movies - I think my problem is that I am at that point where I want more from a film than just male/female objectification, social stereotypes and predictable jokes.

I don't doubt that my MCD has influenced this review, but it is a film best left for watching when it is on TV and maybe then just have it play in the background.

For fairness though...IMDB reviewers have given it a 6.2, Rotten Tomatoes have given it 64% , Metascore is 55/100.

I give it a 5/10 - just because some people in the cinema seemed entertained, and also because they hadn't gone for a total piece of male eye-candy as the lead - like Josh Duhamel. I have just seen that it is written and produced by Jennifer Westfeldt too. Which explains about the obsession with being old and not having children, of having to find the one, and obsessing over vagina tightness and body issues - all things women unnecessarily obsess over - but the drawback is its embarrassing to be a woman and know that a woman wrote this pile of dung. That is harsh, I know but I believe in equality for everyone and that includes the sexes, and films like this don't help us in anyway at all. People think that because it is written by a woman then its acceptable to present women in this fashion. I don't think it is. I keep the faith that one day a woman will write a film that will be funny and intelligent and won't centre around an obsession about being single in your thirties and not having a man in your life. I only ask for one film, just one.

Well, I didn't expect that to end in a mini-rant! I urge you all to see the film and make up your own mind but just be warned! 

Are there any films that make you scream? Any that you laugh so hard you cry at? Have you ever written a screen play?

8 comments:

  1. This sounds like a film I will happily not see! To be honest, the title and premise would have been enough to send me scurrying the other way, but I loved this post :-)

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  2. I was surprised by how much I was taken by this, but I do give you that it's not for everyone.
    However I am not usually one who falls for this type of rom-com.
    Answering to your points:
    1) yes, he's a womaniser and yet his performance I thought made him sympathetic and rather charming...Sadly I do know quite a lot of people like that kind of character, so it didn't feel so far fetched for me.
    This is a film about selfish people or do a very selfish and childish act without really thinking about the consequences (i.e. making a baby thinking they could go on leaving their lives they way the always have).

    2) this really doesn't bother me at all.. and I don't really think something like this could spoil anybody's enjoyment. I do have a lot of very much younger close friends and some much older ones too and yet when we go out all together our age boundaries is never even an issue.

    3) I never really judge a film for it's continuity mistakes and if you are really into the film you shouldn't even notice which socks somebody was wearing at which particular scene. If that were a measure to judge movies then masterpieces like The Sting, Rear Window or Taxi Driver would fall down to pieces. But I can understand that if people are not into the film, the way you were clearly not, then you'd start noticing these details.

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  3. 4) Yes, you're right about that. I did mention it in my review as well. Those kind of forced vulgar dialogue exchanges annoyed me a little bit... but hey you may argue that a lot of people (especially american, I can tell you from experience) do talk like that (see point 1).

    5) I thought the choices of actors was actually spot on. None of them brought any baggage with them. Friends do come in and out of people's lives all the time. I thought Ed Burns was perfectly cast and portrait a character who despite of being "our enemy" (especially if we want the central relationship to work) is actually rather sweet and quite charming. Megan Fox was perfect as the portrait of a certain type of young person who can't even conceive the idea of putting work and selfish needs aside. She's not necessarily a bad person, she's just too young to even think that she one day she might want to have a child and... In a way she represents everything that Adam's character is going to be growing up from. She looked the part and she delivered in spades.

    6) Really not quite sure what the problem is. The film is about relationship, responsibilities towards your partners, your child and your friends... Who cares what the job is?...

    7) The point of that scene repeated twice is to see how Adam Scott's character is growing up and getting more mature. It's easy to criticise people when you look from the outside and you don't know what is like living with a kid.... Only once you've experience that you can understand. I'm surprised you pointed this out. It's the core of the film...

    8) Not quite sure what your point is here...

    But basically once again it proves that movies are really personal. Some people love transformers others hate it. Some love art French films others hate it.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Though far from being a masterpiece, I felt it perfectly capture that phase in couple's lives when they have kids. Some of them disappear, some of them grow further apart, others fall into the danger of "routine", others live for their kids and forget about themselves.
    It was obviously a fairly personal film for the director, quite acutely observed which I thought went way beyond the stereotypes you're referring to: no character in this film can be put in a simple box with a tag. Even the couple who you think is just tired and fallen out of love, in the end comes across as one of the strongest (I'm referring to Chris O'Dowd and Maya Rudolph). It's a film of moments, looks, lines said and unsaid.
    Of course it's not without its fault, but I can't think of a better comedy this year to be honest...

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  4. I should have said romantic comedy not just comedy.

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  5. Incredibly in depth review! Wow! Very impressive!

    Where you and I differ is that I don't go to the movies that often (for obvious reasons), but when I do go, it's because I'm gagging to see said film. I have never been to a film to appease someone else, or just because...that's what I have satellite tele for...I just wait until it comes on HBO or such. But some movies don't appeal to me, usually because of the actors, but sometimes because of the content, and this film would fall into the actor category. There have VERY few movies that I was able to enjoy that contained an actor I didn't like (and, at the moment, none come to mind).

    But when I love a film, I love it for life! I can sit and watch a movie several times in a row and never get bored (and usually do...the benefits of satellite is you get HBO east and west, so when it's done on one side, you can just switch to the other channel and watch it again!). And then there are the "classics" that I truly worship (i.e. Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, and The Breakfast Club - or the holy trinity as I like to call them), and my Asper brain can't fathom how people have made it through life and never seen these films! But I also can't process why everybody doesn't love the same things I do, so that might be why!

    Just the other day the subject of the Princess Bride came up. PB is one of those movies that everyone should see and love. Period. I was completely shocked at the number of people in our lab who had never even heard of it (and I'm not talking the young'uns either!). I usually have to walk away in those situations because I get really really mad! I actually brought my copy for one person to watch, but after two weeks she brought it back because she "didn't get around to it". How can someone love a movie if they don't watch it in the first place? (said the pot to the kettle I guess per above rant).

    Don't even know what crap I just typed or if it even made sense...so moving on to your questions...

    Movies never make me scream...I'm a horror buff. I might jump here and there, but no verbal outbursts (besides can you imagine me doing ANY kind of verbal outburst in public? Those are saved for the idiots I work with!). It takes an act of the heavens to made me laugh, I might chuckle a little bit, but I can't think of one that made me roll. And I've never written a screenplay although I've started about 5 novels that I'll never finish!

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    Replies
    1. Hey keebs, wow! thanks for the comment! You do know that I havent seen Sixteen Candles or Pretty in Pink and only saw The Breakfast Club and Princess Bride once about 20 years ago...right?!

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    2. Bout time you got to the video store then!

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