Since I’m not interested in American Reunion and Titanic is thirteen years old, my original plan for this week was to review Wrath of the Titans. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find my theater had managed to get a copy of Friends With Kids, which you may remember from this interview, so I saw that too. And I found that I had things to say about both films, so instead of flipping a coin, I decided to do a double feature.
Wrath of the Titans
When Zeus is kidnapped and taken to Tartarus as a sacrifice to free the Titan Kronos, reluctant hero Perseus is pressed back into action for a rescue mission.
Friends With Kids
After seeing their friends’ marriages implode from having kids, two friends decide to have a kid together to get it out of the way before finding their soul mates.
The main thing I want to say about Wrath of the Titans was that Sam Worthington was right: it is much better than Clash of the Titans. And the main thing I want to say about Friends With Kids is that it’s soooo cute!
Wrath of the Titans
There were a few problems with Clash of the Titans. 1) It didn’t have any Titans in it, 2) Perseus’ only character facet was that he actually wanted to be a fisherman, 3) the action was filmed in close-up shaky cam, 4) the plot mostly consisted of them standing around waiting to be attacked by the monster du jour, and 5) the characters never opened their mouths unless it was to scream or point out the obvious. Thankfully, they’ve fixed all of this. The main villain is Kronos, king Titan, who is in the process of being released by his evil son Hades (Ralph Finnes).
I’m not one to gush over special effects, but holy sh**
Perseus (Sam Worthington) still doesn’t want to be a hero, but now it’s because he’s got a son, Helius (John Bell), whom he doesn’t want to leave. In fact, there’s a whole father/son motif, with Perseus’ dad Zeus (Liam Neeson) needing to be rescued and Zeus’ other son Ares (Edgar Ramierez) collaborating with Hades out of jealousy. All this allows them to have little moments where the actors can actually emote instead of just screaming and flinging themselves at monsters (though there’s still a fair bit of that).
Daddy, when will I get to scream and fling myself at monsters?
Thankfully, you can actually see what they’re flinging themselves at this time, because there’s a new director Jonathan Liebesman, who actually has the words “wide shot” in his vocabulary. Plotwise there’s more sense as well, with Perseus and his pals Agenor (Toby Kebbell) aka “the Navigator” aka Neptune’s son, and Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), a warrior queen, following a checklist of requirements in their quest to rescue Zeus that actually makes sense.
Get map so we can get through insane living labyrinth: CHECK
That’s not to say it’s a perfect movie. Helius makes the oddest grimaces for no reason whenever he’s in shot, the romance subplot is decidedly thrown together, they could still use a few more meaningful conversations, and they do occasionally slip back into point-out-the-obvious mode.
ANDROMEDA: “Kronos is coming!”
ME: Really? And here was me thinking you were just testing your atomic weapons.
But overall I enjoyed Wrath of the Titans, and not just because Sam was in it (though it did really help). If you’re a fan of action movies or men with no pants go and see it. It’s above average in both of these categories.
Friends With Kids
On the total opposite end of the movie spectrum, we have Friends With Kids: a small-time lighthearted romantic comedy written, directed, and acted by one person and filmed over just a few days. At the beginning of the film, singleton best friends Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt who is also the writer/director) and Jason (Adam Scott) meet their married friends Lesile and Alex (Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd) and Ben and Missy (Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig) for dinner. At the announcement that their friends are pregnant, they all vow to keep their friendship the same.
Here’s to unrealistic expectations!
Fast forward four years and the married couples are run ragged and constantly at each others’ throats. Normal people would think: “I’m never going to have kids.” But Jason and Julie think: “We should have kids BEFORE we get married so the first years don’t put such a strain on our relationships.” I say “relationships” (plural) because even though Julie and Jason think nothing of calling each other at 3am to play a “would you rather” game of choose-your-own-death, they do it with their current flames asleep in bed next to them.
They say they’re not attracted to each other,
but they’re pretty quick to hop into bed together to make the kid.
Their friends naturally assume that their 50/50 child sharing platonic relationship is going to explode in their faces, but actually it works out rather well, especially since they live in the same apartment building and can easily pass their son Joe back and forth like a hot potato. So imagine their friends’ surprise when they’re invited over after months of not seeing them to find their place looking like a page of Martha Stewart Monthly.
Hey! Come in and try the quiche! Would you like yours with Valium or without?
But of course this is a romantic comedy so eventually things get complicated. Womanizer Jason hooks up with Mary Jane (Megan Fox) a dancer who doesn’t want kids, and insecure Julie starts dating Kurt (Edward Burns) a divorced dad with kids of his own. And as you might expect, Jason feeling like Julie is “one of my limbs” (and vice versa) starts to get in the way of things.
What? You don’t want my baby mama to come to dinner with us? That’s not very modern of you.
Romantic comedies succeed or fail based on the couples’ chemistry and the amount of comedy in the script, and Friends With Kids has lots of both. Julie and Jason are incredibly cute together and Jason’s total deadpan honesty gets more than a few laughs, especially when he’s willing to say things like: “Oh my God, your vagina looks like a jellyfish!” to the woman who’s pushing out his baby.
Also, it’s good to see Adam Scott get the girl for once.
So to sum up, I’ve seen this setup before, but never done so well. Friends With Kids is a perfect date movie, both for people who are just starting to date but especially for people who are married and/or have kids, because this movie really seems to “get” what it’s like.