At TIFF: ‘Friends with Kids,’ and heading home
TORONTO — Though I heard somebody refer to Jennifer Westfeldt’s charming new comedy as “People with Children” the other day, there should be no mistaking “Friends with Kids” — it just might become the breakout hit of this festival. Westfeldt wrote, directs (in her debut) and stars in this contemporary rom-com about a group of Manhattan friends who find their lives changed by having children. Julie (Westfeldt) and her platonic best pal Jason (Adam Scott) think they can avoid the marital misery they see around them by having a child without being committed to each other, so they do so — and, of course, things are more complicated than they imagine. You can certainly see where “Friends with Kids” is going, but Westfeldt and Scott are so enchanting together you root for it to go there, and the supporting cast (“Bridesmaids” alums Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig and Chris O’Dowd, along with Megan Fox and Edward Burns) is perfect. (Funniest line in the movie: “I have two of your thongs in my apartment,” and I’ll let you guess who says it to whom. It’s all in the delivery.) I’ve always wondered why Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”) isn’t a bigger star — she’s got brilliant, sweetly meandering comic timing reminiscent of Carole Lombard — and this might be the movie that does it for her. “Friends with Kids” arrived here at TIFF without a distributor, but word is that will change very soon.
(Photo: Actors Brian Austin Green, Megan Fox, Jon Hamm and director/actress Jennifer Westfeldt at a reception for “Friends With Kids” at TIFF, by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Vanity Fair.)
And with that, screening this morning, my Toronto sojourn has ended: I’m going to pack up my room, buy myself a nice lunch, and head to the airport in a couple of hours. This is when I think about all the films I didn’t get to — Nick Murphy’s Henry James-ish ghost story “The Awakening,” with Rebecca Hall; Steve McQueen’s “Shame,” with Michael Fassbender’s award-winning performance; Frederick Wiseman’s latest documentary “Crazy Horse”; Owen Moverman’s cop drama “Rampart”; Lynne Ramsay’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin”; Ralph Fiennes’ “Coriolanus”; and the list could go on much longer — but certainly some and perhaps all will eventually make their way to Seattle. Nor did I lock eyes with George Clooney, but perhaps that’s for another day.
I was telling someone this morning that, in my tenth visit to TIFF, I always look forward to the festival and I’m always ready to leave. It’s fun to immerse yourself in movies (always so many! always some that get away!), in celebrity chitchat (the Globe Mail this morning quoted a festival volunteer saying that volunteers were told to face the wall when Madonna arrived for a press conference, so she could walk the hall without being stared at), and in industry eavesdropping. (At this festival, when you hear someone say “I bought a documentary,” which someone said behind me the other day, you know he doesn’t mean he got it from Amazon.) But I get driven crazy by the cellphones (which are now, sadly, in wide use during all press/industry screenings), the rushing around, the lack of time to let a film linger deliciously in the mind. TIFF comes but once a year, and that’s how it should be; by next year, I’ll be ready, if I’m lucky, to jump on the merry-go-round again.
I hope some of you enjoyed visiting TIFF vicariously with me. Be back blogging from P P headquarters (a desk strewn with Diet Coke cans, in sunny Seattle) tomorrow.
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