Beware yon (obvious) spoilers.
Last year brought us Friends with Benefits, a mainstream romantic comedy that tried to play up the casual sex between friends, but with the audience knowing all along that Timberlake and Kunis would fall into the traditional tropes of the film's genre. The indie romantic dramedy, Friends with Kids is Friends with Benefits plus a decade. So instead of casual sex between friends, we get casual parenting between friends, along with all the eventual romantic comedy tropes it tries to avoid.
Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt, also writer/director) are best friends in a group of six, the remaining four of which are split into married couples (Chris O'Dowd with Maya Rudolph and Jon Hamm with Kristen Wiig). All six live the successful Manhattan dream, that is until the marrieds start reproducing. Suddenly, all the spouses fight all the time and platonic singles Jason and Julie pity their friends. That doesn't mean the two don't want kids of their own, but they don't want to fall into the loveless relationships exhibited around them. So the two decide to have a baby together, so the difficult stuff will be out of the way when they do find their true loves. It's a plan that works really well, until it doesn't.
Though I should be insulted by Friends with Kids's assumption that love, happiness and kids cannot co-exist (with some work, just like everything else in life), the film feels mostly like some absurd fantasy in a way that its ignorance cannot be harped on too aggressively. Then again maybe it's the cultural difference between the big city life and the Southern suburbs. However, from its ridiculous "progressive" ideals, the script does boast some hilarious moments, particularly in the first half of the film. And it was refreshing to see that some of the tougher moments weren't obnoxiously cliche. The supporting friends' strained marriages come from within the complexities of raising families and don't bring in contrived outside issues like money or infidelity, though they easily could have. It's not that those particular elements aren't in tune with reality, but they're not the focus of the film either.
For awhile the film is light and enjoyable, though with elements of complete implausibility. Jason is suppose to be a big shot ladies man, hopping from girl to girl and eventually even landing Megan Fox (who starts off decent but turns out to just be Megan Fox), and Adam Scott was miscast as such. He certainly captured the necessary internal characteristics of Jason, but trying to parade him around as a hot stud, who would love to have the responsibility of a baby, was a stretch, where as Westfeldt's self-deprecation worked. "I can put myself together and I have good hair." Brilliant! And their platonic friendship works really well for some great moments, even after the baby is born.
Then it all falls apart in the third act as the shaky house of cards is blown down by the conventional need to have to two as a couple. It was seen coming a mile away, but it was still disappointing when the plot went there. And what followed was a lot of tedious back-and-forth for half an hour. All of which could have been forgiven until literally the last sixty seconds of dialogue undid a lot of good faith I had invested in the film. The two besties are immediately known for being able to say anything to one another, generally to comedic effect, but when the romantic relationship is fully blossoming, the brutal honesty turns downright vulgar. It's as if Westfeldt tried too hard to stray from the formula, and it was a giant turn off. I'm may not be a huge supporter of rom-coms, but even less so of locker room talk in the bedroom.
Overall, Friends with Kids was a mostly enjoyable film that half-heartedly tried something new. The cast is pretty spot on, particularly the supporting (despite the underuse of Wiig), and there is a lot of heart to be had. Just turn it off before the final scene and imagine Jason and Julie remained friends with a kid.