Friends With Kids 

Spring's hottest cast in the season's most lukewarm film

Friends With Kids, Hollywood's new likeable but not lovable rom-com, is very pleasing to watch, if only the two lead characters would get out of the way.

One need not look much further than the poster advertising Friends With Kids. Jon Hamm? There's a big picture of the Mad Men man, but he plays a relatively small role. Megan Fox? Big photo for the lovely lady but even smaller part. Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd? Nice images of the ladies and gent from Bridesmaids, but in this film, they're supporting players. And oh, yes, let's not forget Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt, the stars of Friends With Kids, who are given short shrift from the film's marketing team. In spite of the fact that they're the two leads, don't try to spot them on the poster.

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Friends With Kids is certainly relevant--three 30-something couples with kids are longtime college chums with a single man and woman, neither of whom are attached or have children. We know where this is heading before the opening titles finish rolling--somehow, the unattached will soon be attached and, sooner than later, they'll be bouncing around a baby. OK, fine, it's a story revisited in a dozen films and a dozen more television sitcoms. But what makes one movie or sitcom more pleasing than the rest is character development. And therein lies the problem with Friends With Kids.

Westfeldt, who also wrote and directed the film, is funny, smart and drop-dead gorgeous. Unfortunately, she wrote her own role as a selfish 1-percenter and her counterpart as a bit of a prick. Scott can be really charming, as he is each week on NBC's Parks and Recreation, but here, he's a self-absorbed jerk. Rule No. 1: don't make your lead a douche. Rule No. 2: if you ignore Rule No. 1, don't think an audience will forgive him in the final 90 seconds of the film.

Yale University grad Westfeldt should know better: she's a fine actress (Broadway's Wonderful Town) and an even better screenwriter (Kissing Jessica Stein). She and her real-life paramour, Hamm, are poised to be Tinseltown's new power couple.

But after seeing Friends With Kids at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011, I turned to other attendees, who pretty much shrugged their shoulders and told me that they "didn't hate the movie but didn't love it."

Entertainment Weekly recently called the stars of Friends With Kids "spring's hottest cast," with a big two-page photo spread of Hamm and Fox. I had to jog my memory to remind myself they were even in the film.

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