Friends with Kids (Blu-ray)
Directed by Jennifer Westfeldt
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 107 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Review Date: July 15, 2012
When their married friends began having children, continual singles (and best friends) Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) decide they can have a kid together without the confinements and tensions of marriage because they’re not attracted to each other romantically. Nine months later, their son is born, and the shared parenting seems easy and natural between them, enough so that it drives their married friends Ben (Jon Hamm) and Missy (Kristen Wiig) and Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O'Dowd) a little crazy. Even more frustrating is that both Julie and Jason seem to find their perfect mates: Kurt (Edward Burns) for her and Maryjane (Megan Fox) for him so that they seem to have it all without the conflicting baggage that weighs heavily on the marrieds’ relationships. But there’s a tiny problem. Julie has begun to fall in love with Jason, and he definitely does not have reciprocal feelings.
Director Jennifer Westfeldt also penned the script for the movie, and she places a great deal of the comic material in the film’s first third. Both the conception scene (where the two friends find it hard keeping straight faces seeing each other naked) and the delivery scene and afterward are filled almost nonstop with fall down funny lines and bits of business. But as the animosities and frustrations begin to build within the tight circle of friends, things take on a much more unpleasant and uncomfortable tone culminating in the film’s big dramatic free-fall at the dinner table during a Vermont ski trip where many of the pent-up feelings finally are allowed to be expressed. It’s one of those grisly, prickly life moments where even friends can be detestable to one another, and the actors and Westfeldt’s direction capture it to perfection. Later more heartbreak for the couple lies ahead, but it’s all acted and directed with a sure hand and makes a satisfying if fairly predictable end to the film that otherwise had been full of surprises. The script does tend to strain too hard to be profanely hip in the climactic confrontation scene between the couple, but that seems its only major misstep. Westfeldt has also done a good job representing New York City during its changing seasons offering stunning views of Manhattan by day and by night.
She’s been blessed with an attractive and appealing cast, too. Adam Scott wins acting honors as the dry-witted Jason. He has appealing chemistry with Jennifer Westfeldt as Julie (even though Westfeldt’s longtime partner Jon Hamm is paired with someone else in the movie), and the two play off each other wonderfully. Chris O'Dowd as the schlubby Alex is always a delightful presence with his innocently tasteless asides and clueless older frat boy persona. Kristen Wiig (due to her commitments to Saturday Night Live during shooting) has a much less obvious presence in the movie than the other friends (and consequently Jon Hamm also has less to do apart from one dynamite scene), but she has a couple of really stunning reactive moments that define her character to perfection. Megan Fox looks stunning as the lead dancer from Chicago whose limber body and acrobatic sexual maneuvers send Jason to the heights of sexual ecstasy, and Edward Burns is effortlessly subdued and charming as the (seemingly) perfect man for Julie. Maya Rudolph, visibly pregnant during some of the movie though her character is not, lends a gently supporting ear as Julie’s best friend.
The film has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Shot digitally, the image has an extremely warm and inviting presence throughout with most shots very sharp and color very saturated. Flesh tones seem natural. Black levels are good and sometimes better than that with the New York City skyline always a stunning image when well photographed. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix allows the Marcelo Zarvos music score and some pop hits to do the heavy lifting in terms of surround activity. There is some slight ambience in the surrounds from restaurant and park scenes, but most of the sound focus is toward the front channels in this mix. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel.
The audio commentary is by writer-director Jennifer Westfeldt, director of photography William Rexer II, and Jon Hamm (who comes in and out of the conversation). The talk is mainly of the tiny budget, trying weather conditions, and the remarkable cast and crew who were able to get intricate shots down in very few takes (usually no more than three). The speakers also note all of the shots stolen on New York streets grabbed as they could working on such a strict budget and deadline.
All of the bonus features are presented in 1080p.
“Making Friends with Kids” is an 8 ¼-minute vignette with the stars of the film (including its writer-director) discussing their roles and the difficult working conditions.
Two sections of outtakes and bloopers can be accessed either separately or together in a 12-minute bunch.
“Anatomy of a Gag: Scene 42” presents a scene from the movie with Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt and then shows a series of ad-libs from which the final scene was constructed. It runs 5 ¼ minutes and offers the viewer the option of commentary from Rexer, Westfeldt, and Hamm or not.
“MJ Rocks at Video Games” is another series of ad-libs this time between Megan Fox and Adam Scott as they play a video game. It also offers the option of running commentary between Rexer, Westfeldt, and Hamm and lasts for 3 ¾ minutes.
There are eight deleted scenes which can be viewed individually or in one 8 ¼ minute clump. There is once again the option of audio commentary from the same three individuals but mostly from Westfeldt.
There are promo trailers for One for the Money, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Casa De Mi Padre, Girl in Progress, and The Switch.
4/5 (not an average)
Friends with Kids is an adult romantic comedy-drama with an emphasis on the latter, at least once past the midway point of the film. The Blu-ray looks especially good and sounds fine and will likely make a fine rental for couples or singles who will see a side of child-rearing that isn’t often shown on screen. Recommended!