It isn't really a secret that once a couple, married or otherwise, starts to have kids, there is an inevitable lapse in any sort of romantic inclination felt toward one another. Everything begins to feel like one endless, sleep-deprived nightmare. And then, after eighteen years, you can maybe think about returning to some semblance of what you had with your significant other. Jennifer Westfeldt's directorial debut, Friends With Kids, explores this very conundrum in a semi-original manner that somewhat bears a resemblance to Nicholas Hytner's 1998 film, The Object of My Affection (which I find myself referencing rather frequently lately; who knew a Jennifer Aniston vehicle could set so many precedents?).
A group of friends living the proverbial dream in Manhattan consists of Missy (Kristen Wiig) and Ben (Jon Hamm, Westfeldt's boo since 1997), Leslie (Maya Rudolph) and Alex (Chris O'Dowd), and Jason (Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt). Jason and Julie are the only two who aren't a couple, though they have known each other for years and live in the same apartment building. Opening with the six of them meeting at a restaurant, Missy and Ben are so consumed with each other that they have to have sex in the bathroom before rejoining their friends at the table, while Leslie and Alex are at the point in their marriage where Leslie has finally gotten pregnant--a fact she announces to the others after Jason and Julie finish chastising another patron of the restaurant under their breaths for bringing a toddler. Leslie assures them that nothing will change. Cut to: Four years later.
Leslie and Alex now live in Brooklyn, a fact that Jason and Julie absolutely scorn as they take a cab ride there that tops out in the forty dollar range. Jason chirps, "Brooklyn is the new Manhattan," causing Julie to counter, "Manhattan is the new Manhattan." Upon arriving at Leslie and Alex's, who Jason and Julie haven't seen in months, chaos erupts as their son tornadoes throughout the apartment. Leslie has no qualms about expressing her irritation with Alex's overall laziness/apathy as she struggles to prepare dinner in honor of Jason's birthday. Missy and Ben arrive late with a fussy infant of their own, leaving Jason and Julie to stare in awe at both couples over the dinner table as they realize how much their friends have changed in the wake of having children.
Faced with the painful reality that she will end up loving her own child more than the man she would marry, Julie proposes an unorthodox idea to Jason: Have a child together so that it doesn't tear apart their nonexistent marriage and then both of them will still be able to find true love with someone else. What could go wrong?
One of the two's (I won't say which, but I'm sure you can guess it's the person with the ovaries) emotions gets more involved than anticipated, leading to complications with their respective relationships with other people--Jason is dating a dancer named Mary Jane (Megan Fox, in a predictably vacant role), while Julie is deeply committed to a divorcé named Kurt (King of the Lackluster Indies, Edward Burns). When the film finally does draw to a close, you find yourself feeling that the message of the story trumped the actual story. But, on the plus side, Adam Scott has really honed his acting skills and you can just pretend Jon Hamm is Don Draper like you always do.