Writing about the Avengers trailer a while back, I mentioned the problem of superhero-movie overcrowding, which tends to afflict sequels—recall Spider-Man 3, for example, with its three villains, or Batman & Robin, with the titular heroes joined by Batgirl, Mr. Freeze, and Poison Ivy.
Perhaps you don’t think of Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph, and Adam Scott as superheroes. But for those of us who do, the Friends With Kids trailer is worrying for a similar reason:
When the trailer opens, Rudolph and Scott are at a restaurant with what one assumes are their respective romantic partners—played by Chris O’Dowd and Jennifer Westfeldt—at dinner, talking about a third couple. Then, boom: Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig appear! How exciting. But wait: There’s Ed Burns! And Megan Fox? How many familiar faces are in this movie? Is Garry Marshall involved?
The population density in this trailer would not be troubling if Friends With Kids was a straightforward ensemble comedy. As has been widely noted, the cast is practically borrowed from one of the more successful recent examples of that subgenre: Wiig, Rudolph, Hamm, and O’Dowd were all terrific in Bridesmaids.
But the basic plot of Bridesmaids could hardly have been simpler: A woman struggles with the impending marriage of her best friend. The movie could tell that story and still spread the laughs around among its ample cast.
Friends With Kids, on the other hand, is a high-concept rom-com: Two friends decide to have a kid together without becoming romantically involved. (Think When Harry Met Sally with the degree of difficulty cranked to 11.) Can Westfeldt, who co-wrote and starred in the smart and funny Kissing Jessica Stein back in 2001, and who is here making her directorial debut, pull this off? Maybe. But I’m dialing my (previously soaring) expectations down a notch.