Despite obvious flaws, Jennifer Westfeldt’s soho, boho, hetero rom-com is a more thoughtful movie than a first glance suggests.
Both an unofficial sequel to Friends with Benefits and an unofficial precursor to the inevitable fortysomething laugh riot, Friends with Mortgages, Jennifer Westfeldt’s soho, boho, hetero farce again ponders whether it’s possible to sew your wild oats while retaining the façade of a responsible, professional adult.
Jason (Adam Scott) is all about scoring hard and scoring often, but while his downstairs neighbour, Julie (Westfeldt), is up for some no-strings lovin’, she’s also desperate to become a mother. And so a pact is forged where he will impregnate her, they will both rear the child, but there will be no romance to weigh them down. They wouldn’t want to end up like their friends, all married with children, and all desperately unhappy. Because that’s what happens when you fall in love.
It’s hard to accept that two people so in touch with their emotions would entertain a notion so riddled with obvious flaws, so when their friendship eventually begins to strain, it comes as no real surprise. Plus, Westfeldt has a strange, almost seedy concept of platonic friendships. It seems to be the point two people reach when they have no qualms about dropping ill-advised cracks about the elasticity of their vagina into polite conversation.
So it’s difficult to muster the will to get behind these fools, and yet there are stretches where Westfeldt’s script glows, such as an expertly executed dinner-table fracas, which manages to engage the entire ensemble.
Elsewhere, it comes off like a feature-length sitcom spin-off, replete with pantomime baddie (Jon Hamm as a whisky-supping husband), young strumpet (Megan Fox as Jason’s interim belle) and comedy sidekick (Chris O’Dowd, delivering an American accent that sounds like he’s just had his tonsils removed with a pair of bolt-cutters). Kristen Wiig barely gets a look-in as Hamm’s frazzled missus.
There’s a point near the end where you think that Westfeldt is going to round things off on a gutsy downer note. But then we dutifully seague into a nauseatingly inane hugging/forgiving session before both characters agree – in a surreal nod to Eyes Wide Shut? – to 'fuck the shit' out of one another before the credits roll. Charming.
The cast looks like they could pull this one through easily.
The tactless performances and potty humour devalue the serious questions Westfeldt is asking.
Maybe this is a better, more thoughtful movie than you initially give it credit for?