Friday, March 9, 2012

Notes on Pop Culture: New Flicks 'Friends With Kids' & 'Game Change'

I really liked Jennifer Westfeldt's new film, Friends With Kids about two best pals who decide to have a baby together, a movie in which Westfeldt starred, as well as wrote and directed.

In my review of the movie -- which also stars Adam Scott from Parks & Recreation and features Bridesmaids alums Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm and Chris O'Dowd-- I compared it to When Harry Met Sally, only with a whole lot more profanity and a bunch of kids running around. This comparison is a good thing because a) I love When Harry Met Sally and b) When Harry Met Sally is a classic. An excerpt of the review on CliqueClack Flicks:

"Friends With Kids is a sharp indie which offers insight, humor, heart and a really nasty Jon Hamm scene without ever veering into garden variety, rom-com slop territory. It's a film that sincerely dramatizes how parenting can alter a relationship and how wading through the happy, maddening and messy moments of child-rearing can make or break a couple.

. . . Amidst the occasional ugliness and bouts of heartbreak, Friends With Kids actually winds up delivering a charming message about parenting, romance and the joys of sharing a life with someone, even when your kid gets explosive diarrhea all over you and the wall. The parenting experience can forge a bond between partners . . . or send the fleeing in the opposite direction. It also puts to the test Billy Crystal's famous When Harry Met Sally adage, 'Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.'"

If you're in the mood for a funny and poignant film that takes a hard look at the impact of parenting on romance and relationships, this film is for you.

Meanwhile, HBO is premiering its original film Game Change this weekend. Your opinion of this rendition of Sarah Palin's selection as John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential campaign will depend upon your political leanings. If you're a Democrat and don't like Palin, you'll cackle throughout the film and have a blast watching her make gaffe after gaffe (oh, that Katie Couric interview) and see her admit that she didn't know why the United States had troops in Afghanistan. If you're a Republican and like Palin, though there are a few moments featuring the positives Palin brought to McCain's ticket (stupendous convention speech, solid debate performance, increased donations and huge bump in attendance at rallies), it's hard to overlook the film's meta-message that Game Change pounds home in between a handful of sympathetic Palin scenes: Palin had no business being picked; she was incompetent, emotionally unstable and, at times, imperious.

I've lamented on this blog on a number of occasions the negativity and condescension to which political women are subjected in the media and this movie is no exception to this unfortunate trend. But the fault lies in the source material, Game Change the book which villainized all the women in the book from Palin to Hillary Clinton, from Cindy McCain to Elizabeth Edwards. Only Michelle Obama emerged from that bestseller relatively unscathed.

That being said, Game Change's acting was top-notch. Julianne Moore was perfection and I didn't know Woody Harrelson had it in him to make me forget that it was Woody playing a high-powered political consultant. No matter your political leanings, Game Change is an entertaining ride, though if you're of the Republican/Palin fan ilk, you'll likely be indignantly fired up the movie's end. If you're of the mind that female politicians get a raw deal in the media, you may well be as fired up as the Republicans. My review of the film can be found here.

Image credit: Phillip V. Caruso/HBO.

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