'Friends,' Kids And Beating The System Renee Montagne talks to Jennifer Westfeldt, known for writing and starring in the indie hit Kissing Jessica Stein, about her new comedy Friends with Kids, which she wrote, directed and stars in.
NPR logo

'Friends,' Kids And Beating The System

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/148243568/148278428" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Friends,' Kids And Beating The System

'Friends,' Kids And Beating The System

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/148243568/148278428" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


A new comedy opening today explores the idea of how babies change the relationships of everyone around them. It's not a sequel but it does feature much of the cast that made "Bridesmaids," a breakout hit last summer. Now it's "Friends With Kids," directed by Jennifer Westfeldt. She's best known for writing and starring in the Indie hit "Kissing Jessica Stein," about a single girl in New York who tries out romance with another woman.

In "Friends With Kids," Jennifer Westfeldt plays Julie, another single New Yorker, now approaching 40, and she decides to have a baby with her platonic best friend Jason, played by Adam Scott. Here, they explain their unusual plan to some married friends.


ADAM SCOTT: (as Jason) We really want to have a kid.


SCOTT: (as Jason) We just don't want to subject that kid to our tragic marriage.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Julie) A tragic marriage?

SCOTT: (as Jason) No, our tragic marriage.

WESTFELDT: (as Julie) The one we would have.

SCOTT: (as Jason) Us.

WESTFELDT: (as Julie) I mean, see, we - we just - you know, we don't want to fall into the trap that most of our friends have. We want to do it in a way that doesn't kill the romance - and the thing is I'm old is the thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as Jason) I get it. You won't have a kid but without all that comes of marriage.


SCOTT: (as Jason) Yes.

MONTAGNE: Jennifer Westfeldt came to talk to us about" Friends With Kids."

Good morning.

WESTFELDT: Good morning, thanks for having me.

MONTAGNE: Well, now the scheme is that the two of you who are really dear friends, you will have a baby and not complicate it with romance.

WESTFELDT: Yes, I mean essentially we are the last childless singles in our friend group. We've always wanted children, but we haven't found that person. And we're a little freaked out, honestly, by the strain and stress, and toll that kids can take on the romantic part of the relationship, at least temporarily. So, we devise this scheme to have a kid together as BFFs and look for romance, pure romance, outside of that.

MONTAGNE: I gather that the ensemble cast that in the movie, several of them are your friends. And I'm wondering, given that you wrote it, if you've had the experience of having your friends become more distant or appear to begin living miserably lives, at least temporarily?

WESTFELDT: I mean, I wouldn't call it miserable. I just think that, you know, over the past five or six years in particular, I've watched a lot of my friends make that profound and enormous transition to parenting. And when you're out of sync with your peer group - as I have been, since I don't have children - you definitely do experience, I guess, a mourning, in a way, of what your friendship was before. Because you do lose your friends for a bit, and they don't have the time for you and you miss them.

And most of the people in my life, most of my girlfriends in particular, they all sort of say a similar thing, which is that this is the most incredible, rewarding, inexplicable love that I've ever experienced. And at the same time, it's the hardest thing I've ever done. And I think that duality is what I was interested in, in terms of writing this story.

MONTAGNE: The movie is very talky, and it's very rich in conversations. And let's play a scene where your character's friends, played by Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd, they have several children by this time.


MONTAGNE: And they're arguing, actually, about this decision by their friends to forgo marriage.




WESTFELDT: That's the wonderful Chris O'Dowd and Maya Rudolph.

MONTAGNE: Well, I do know your previous two movies - "Kissing Jessica Stein" and then in 2007 "Ira and Abby" - they deal with relationships. But over all, there is a search for finding out about oneself. I'm wondering, I gather your parents are therapists.

WESTFELDT: Well, my mom and my stepfather are therapists, yes. But I think that the thread that I've been grappling with in all three movies is why do we have to do it the same way everyone else does? Why can't we change the rules and beat the system, and have it all and redefine the terms?

MONTAGNE: You have been with your partner for 15 years. And I say partner, because you have never married.


MONTAGNE: But 15 years is a good long time. And that partner would be someone that these days everyone would know, Jon Hamm; a name that conjures up, you know, the sex symbol on "Mad Men."


MONTAGNE: But having never married, that fits, a bit, this movie. On the other hand, you've never had children. So, in that sense, this movie is really not about you. But I wonder, does this mean these are things you've considered and decided against?

WESTFELDT: No, not really. I mean I think that we feel as married as any other married couple. We have a house and a dog and a will, and...


WESTFELDT: ...it doesn't feel pressing to us to sort of make that legal or get a contract. It doesn't seem to - for us, it just isn't something we really think about. We may do it someday, but it's not important to us. What's important is sort of what we choose every day, and that feels the same as any other committed relationship.

MONTAGNE: To the degree that your work explores life stages, what do you see the next stage that you'll be exploring?


WESTFELDT: I don't - I mean it's true that all three movies, I sort of wrote them as milestone birthdays were approaching. I wrote "Jessica Stein" in my late 20s, you know, and that notion of 30 coming and finding the mate, and being in a certain place by then. And with "Ira and Abby" it was sort of in response to so many people in my life getting married. And I wrote that, sort of, as 35 was approaching.

And with this film and children, it was the same thing with seeing 40 approaching. And I don't know what the next stage would be - a romantic comedy about death? I don't know. I don't know. Does anyone have a good idea?


MONTAGNE: Well, I don't think you're quite there yet, but maybe that's something to aim for - for five decades from now.

WESTFELDT: Exactly, I don't know. We'll see. We'll see how we do, right?


MONTAGNE: Jennifer Westfeldt, thank you for joining us.

WESTFELDT: Thank you so much for having me.

MONTAGNE: "Friends With Kids" directed by Jennifer Westfeldt opens today.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.