As you'd expect, it’d take some lady to tame Don Draper. So it’s no surprise that Jennifer Westfeldt – Jon Hamm’s longtime partner – proves a sharp, funny, ambitious talent in her directorial debut.
But the two characters in her thirtysomethings’ romcom drama are a little trickier to like. Lifelong BFFs Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) are perfect for each other – except they don’t fancy each other.
After watching their married friends crack under the pressure of parenthood, they hatch a plan: make a baby and raise it as platonic single parents who are each “100 per cent committed to this, half the time”. Irresponsible, much? You bet.
And sure enough, Friends With Kids develops with an uncomfortable mixture of keen observation and forced falsities. Westfeldt is cute but disappointingly weak, Scott is cocksure but too dorky to play a player. He effortlessly pulls Megan Fox. Westfeldt swans around in immaculate Manhattan fashion. But as people, they’re selfish, silly and not very real.
And it’s their friends – Westfeldt’s real-life partner bringing his Bridesmaids’ co-stars with him – who provide the real heart. Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd bring warmth as resilient kiddie-wranglers. Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig are another level, subtly, painfully showing a relationship frosting over and breaking.
But Friends With Kids remains a mix of sitcom predictability, Apatow brashness and – in its best moments – fresh honesties rarely seen in Hollywood romcoms. There are surprises, too: which other movie would put Megan Fox and explosive diarrhoea in the same scene?
Smart dialogue, a gifted ensemble and good intentions from Jennifer Westfeldt, but her grown-up romcom can’t quite escape feeling like a sitcom on the big screen.