Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lionsgate sets its sights on Toronto selection 'Friends with Kids'

By Sarah Sluis

After the success of Bridesmaids, it's no surprise that Lionsgate is considering buying Toronto selection Friends with Kids. The parent-centered romantic comedy includes four cast members of Bridesmaids and channels its eye-raising humor. The story centers on two best friends (director/writer Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott) who decide to raise a child with each other while pursuing their own romantic Friends with kids interests. Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have come out generally in favor of the film, but their praise is slightly muted--and not always in agreement.

"Although the comic riffs about parenting and alternative families easily rep the pic's sharpest dialogue and strike a chord with more mature audiences, they co-exist uneasily with Westfeldt's inclusion of a more crude brand of humor," Variety reports. In contrast, THR notes that "the film also borrows from the Bridesmaids playbook with its mild smattering of raunch, which won't hurt its commercial chances."

The movie's also drawn numerous comparisons to sitcoms, though no one can agree exactly what kind.

"Unfolding in a glib, familiar sitcom universe" the movie is a combination of "Friends," "Seinfeld" and "Judd Apatow crass patter" according to Variety. After calling the movie a "successful sitcom," IndieWIRE situates the movie among the "progressive families" featured in the sitcoms "Will & Grace" and "Modern Family." Apparently the humor is original enough to elicit more than one comparison.

The criticism that most makes me want to see the movie is THR's mention that Westfeldt finds "fresh insights" about parenthood and "nuanced consideration of the many ways in which having children Friends with kids 2 changes adults' lives, going beyond the standard comedy terrain of sleep deprivation, frazzled nerves and diaper disasters." Variety hints at this as well, mentioning one instance that's "beautifully evocative of what it means to be a parent." I hate seeing comedies that are stuffed full of tired clichs and sterotypes. The funniest things in life are true, so the best comedy in my book draws from everyday life.

In addition to Westfeldt and Scott as the lead characters, Jon Hamm (Westfeldt's longtime romantic partner), Kristen Wiig, Chris Dowd, and Maya Rudolph (all from Bridesmaids), along with Megan Fox and Edward Burns, round out the cast. Because of its rising-star actors and friendly, easy-to-digest plotting, Friends with Kids could be one of the festival's top-dollar acquisitions.

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