That old biological clock is a bummer. And thirtysomething Julie can feel it tick-tick-ticking-time-bomb-triggering. But what can she do about it? She'd sort of like to have a kid someday, but with the string of losers she's been dating, bedding and dumping, she doesn't see herself wearing her maternal hat anytime soon.
Besides, she's seen what parenthood has done to her married friends. They used to be fun, carefree and passionate people. Now they're just exhausted train wrecks. Is that what being married with kids does to you?
Wait a minute, maybe that's the problem! Being married and having kids.
What if a couple of platonic pals, like, say, she and her best friend Jason, skipped marriage and just went straight to the having-a-baby thing? Maybe the idea of "doing it" with Jason feels a little awkward, but they could get past that. And then with a little co-parenting cooperation, they could work through the difficult bits without the added strain of all those husband-wife emotional tangles.
After the birth, she could be out hitting the dating scene again in six to eight weeks. And when Mr. Right finally does come along, they can simply focus on romance. Jason can keep the kid when she needs a break. And she'll take charge when he has a torrid weekend with whatever busty beauty he might be hooking up with.
Why, it's so modern.
So … completely ridiculous.
The moral messages of this film are both convoluted and conflicting. Friends With Kids repeatedly presents the idea of marriage and family as an inevitably soul-crushing shackle. And then it ultimately revels in the joy of deeply loving someone and the rewards of committing yourself to caring for and raising kids. One of the friends talks of the dedication of true love, saying, "That's why you stay with someone you want to be with under the worst possible circumstances."
Even though Jason and Julie speak of how glad they are that they made their nontraditional child-bearing choice, their friend Ben points out that their actions were selfish and unthinking. He speaks at length about the necessity of putting a child's long-term needs ahead of in-the-moment wants.
Julie's friend Leslie also points out that trying to have a "non-committed" commitment is difficult, if not impossible. "You can't share all that with somebody without getting confused," she says.
The movie also points to the fact that kids have a natural desire for a family that contains both their parents. And how loving a child can often strengthen parents' love for each other. "It's like she's one of my limbs," Jason says. "And that's bad because …?" Ben retorts.
There's a quick joke about Mormons. Jason repeatedly makes mention of his distaste for "organized religion." A background song has the lyric, "Sweet little baby boy on Christmas morn."
Jason and Julie are seen several times in their underwear. And several of their sexual partners wear skimpy nightwear. One of Jason's women is asleep in his bed dressed in a see-through negligee. One of Julie's boyfriends sleeps while wearing only undershorts. Another embraces her while shirtless. Jason takes up with a hypersexual, child-phobic Broadway dancer, Mary Jane, who wears a variety of formfitting outfits ranging from skintight dresses to a small bath towel to short shorts and a camisole. Jason's married friends regularly make mention of her exposed-cleavage appeal and openly ogle her while speaking of masturbatory fantasies. Jason openly lusts over a girl who's vying for their nanny position. A business associate's blouse is so revealing it nearly exposes her nipples.
Before having sex, Jason and Julie watch porn—images from which show couples engaged in intercourse. Movements and sounds are explicitly realistic. Julie and her boyfriend listen to Jason and Mary Jane having very vocal, very loud sex in the next room.
Julie steps out of the shower and asks Jason to judge how long it'll be before she can show her naked body to another man. (She's out of the frame.) Up-close images of her breast while she's nursing her baby are used to trigger sexually tinged comments from Jason. And speaking of sexually tinged comments—which litter at least 90% of the film—we hear about oral sex, masturbation, public intercourse, the size and shape of genitalia and body parts, erections, emasculation, sexual positions and proclivities, one-night stands and homosexuality.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Maybe the film should have been called Friends With Booze, because alcohol flows copiously throughout. All of these folks, at restaurants, parties, bars and home gatherings, drink large amounts of beer, wine and hard liquor.
Julie and Jason, for instance, go back to her apartment and throw back multiple shots of vodka while talking through their plans to have a child. They later gulp glasses of alcohol to prepare for their "pragmatic" hook-up.
In some instances, the drinking gets heavy enough that couples either begin drunkenly arguing or, in one case, someone falls asleep while sitting at the dinner table. Julie has various bottles of breast milk in her fridge, one labeled with, "One glass of wine."
Friends With Kids is yet (and merely) another contemporary romcom that struggles with the utopian, yuppie ideal of grabbing at all of life's gold rings without having to actually grow up enough to properly reach them.
In this case, thirtysomething pals come to the conclusion that it's the divorced people who really have it good. Those lucky so-and-sos have gotten through the kid-bearing years of their first marriages—those painful, nasty, responsibility-grind times that "inevitably" turn all married relationships into angry, drunken, sexless torment. That being the case, Jason and Julie figure, they'd do well to avoid all that pointless dross. Get the kid thing out of the way without all those frayed strings and then live the life of romantic luxury so many exes out there already have in the bag.
That nonsensical pipe dream eventually comes crashing down, though. Or should I write: Of course that nonsensical pipe dream eventually comes crashing down. Common sense demands it. Basic morality outlines it. God designed it that way. And at least the film has the sense to show us that these self-described "super-progressive" friends do come to understand that love, responsibility and sacrifice are all part of the real romance of family and life. That's a laudable finale.
Unfortunately, the path to that obvious conclusion isn't just strewn with diapers and sleepless nights. Grossly unrealistic situations, humorless prattle, repugnant discussions of sexuality (and its depiction too) are all nestled sitcomishly in profanity-plagued dialogue.
I'll give it this: Friends With Kids does well represent one of the tried-and-true torments of married life—a date night-spoiling awful flick.