"To imagine Hepburn and Tracy delivering the same dialogue is to contemplate a half-century of rom-coms circling the drain."
Director: Jennifer Westfeldt
Plutonic male friend: Adam Scott
Plutonic female friend: Jennifer Westfeldt
Delivers a great dinner scene: Jon Hamm
Not in it much: Kristen Wiig
Always the friend: Maya Rudolph
Completely different than his Bridesmaids character: Chris O'Dowd
Thought she was terrific: Megan Fox
Ben Affleck: Ed Burns
The last line of a movie captures something. In order to understand what the line means, we have to know its context. Why? Because everything that's happened builds to the final line.
The last line can do many things. It can conclude the theme. It can set up irony. It can cement a tone or summarize the atmosphere of a movie (see "Hey, everybody, we're all going to get laid."). It can capture the memory of something or someone. It can be the most emotional moment.
Can you name these movies? (Don't ask why I start with Terminator 2 then go back to 1930 and work back up, decade by decade, to the present).
1. "Because if a machine, a terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too."
2. "It was Beauty killed the Beast."
3. "It's a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known."
4. "After all, tomorrow is another day!"
5. "Why was I not made of stone like thee?"
6. "And oh, Auntie Em, there's no place like home."
7. "Throw that junk."
8. "The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of."
9. "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
10. "Sure, forgive your enemies, but first get even."
11. "Nothing you can fix."
12. "That's right, that's right. Attaboy, Clarence."
13. "Take off the red shoes."
14. "Alright, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up."
15. "Hey, Stella! Hey, Stella!"
16. "Keep watching the skies."
17. "Kathy Selden."
18. "I'll be back."
19. "Go -- proclaim liberty throughout all the lands, and to all the inhabitants thereof."
21. "Well, give the men a few minutes more, sergeant."
22. "So long."
23. "God have mercy."
24. "And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand."
25. "I know, but I'm sentimental."
26. "Well, nobody's perfect."
27. "Shut up and deal."
28. "What is 'deguelasse'?"
29. "We'll always lose."
30. "So do you, Fast Eddie."
31. "Mein Fuehrer, I can walk!"
32. "This is no time to be rescued."
33. "You're swine."
34. "What is this sin, my children?"
35. "You're stinking sons of...!"
36. "I've got a flat tire, and I ain't got no spare."
37. "Hell, he's a natural-born world-shaker."
38. "God damn you all to hell!"
39. "For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble."
40. "I was cured all right."
41. "James, how the hell do we get those diamonds down again?"
42. "It's been all such fun."
43. "He lived happily ever after."
44. "Don Corleone."
45. "From here on in, I rag on nobody."
46. "I'd only blow it."
47. "On the sidewalk, get off the street."
48. "I can't imagine why."
49. "Let's go."
50. "Lost in time, and lost in space...and meaning."
51. "You know they're totally irrational and crazy and absurd and -- but, uh, I guess we keep going through it...because...most of us need the eggs."
52. "No prisoners!"
53. "As a matter of fact, it was."
54. "This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off."
55. "The horror."
57. "Well, I'll give him another twenty minutes, but that's it."
58. "...And here is your receipt."
59. "Hey, everybody, we're all going to get laid."
60. ["Beep. Blip. Blip. Beep."]
61. "I'm the boss, I'm the boss, I'm the boss, I'm the boss, I'm the boss...boss, boss, boss, boss, boss, boss."
62. "I won't let you down again."
63. "They will burn till the end of time."
64. "You know, a drink?"
65. "It's too bad she won't live -- but, then again, who does?"
66. "I'll be right here."
67. "Her ongoing mission to explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."
68. "Greetings, programs!"
69. "He's my brother."
70. "The time of your life, huh, kid?"
71. "I absolve you all!"
72. "I LOVE THIS TOWN!"
73. "Hobbs did it."
74. "Where we're going, we don't need roads."
75. "Hey...I'm back!"
76. "I don't know, but, uh, it's lookin' good so far."
77. "And I'm not afraid."
78. "As you wish."
80. "You could look it up."
81. "Eee-ba-da,...th-th-th-th-that's all, folks!"
82. "Great Scott!"
83. "I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook."
84. "Kevin, what did you do to my room?"
85. "Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'."
86. "Well then, kiss me quick before you wake up."
87. "Do I still have to sleep in the cupboard?"
88. "To live, to live would be an awfully big adventure."
89. "Dr. Lecter, Dr. Lecter, Dr. Lecter?"
90. "And I get to tend the rabbits..."
91. "Traffic was a bitch."
92. "You better not cut up nor otherwise harm no whores, or I'll come back and kill every one of you sons of bitches."
93. "Hail to the king, baby."
94. "We'll rent to start."
95. "So have I."
96. "We're simply meant to be."
97. "That's probably a good idea."
98. "I agree with the second part."
99. "And like that, he's gone."
100. "Service guarantees citizenship."
101. "I never let it in."
102. "The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely as they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
103. "Say, friend -- you got any more of that good sarsaparilla?"
104. "Where's the TV Guide?"
105. "When I was young, I met this beautiful girl by the lake."
107. "Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you."
108. "Now, where was I?"
109. "They called me, Mr. Glass."
111. "This is good."
112. "That jazz!"
113. "And no matter what they did to build this city back up again -- for the rest of time -- it would be like nobody even knew we was ever here."
114. "Yo ho!"
115. "'I'm sure that in time, every bit of her will be gone, and her death will be a mystery even to me."
116. "Jack, I swear..."
117. "Good night, and good luck."
118. "Jesus, Richie."
119. "James Bond."
120. "It's a trick."
121. "And that she left behind small traces of her time on earth, visible only to those who know where to look."
122. "So tell me, what's become of my ship?"
123. "Even though we've got a fight ahead of us, we've got one thing that Voldemort doesn't have...Something worth fighting for."
124. "And then I woke up."
125. "I'm finished."
126. "Jesus fucking Christ!"
127. "And some people dance."
128. "A dark knight."
129. "You got to give them hope."
130. "And a woman helped me."
131. "Kiss me."
132. "The world has changed me."
133. "I'm Autumn."
134. "I never realized how beautiful this place was."
135. "The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places, and one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over."
137. "My son is alive."
138. "I prefer Magneto."
139. "Fuck the shit out of me."
Now. This list obviously doesn't contain every movie ever. But it's a sample of some of the most iconic movies (though sorely lacking in international representation, sorry).
Some of the quotes are obvious ("A dark night"). Others totally generic ("This is good."). Some 100% famous ("Where we're going, we don't need roads." "Tomorrow is another day!").
I can't tell you the last line of any movie I've watched in the last year...definitely not in the last two years...maybe three or four? And I've watched 400-500 movies in that time.
Except Friends with Kids.
"Fuck the shit out of me," is pretty memorable.
Hornaday did not appreciate this type of language. I mean. Look at the 138 end quotes proceeding Friends. "Fuck" is said twice.
Eyes Wide Shut: "Fuck." (culminates central tension)
Burn After Reading: "Jesus fucking Christ!" (captures the tone).
I'm sure there are other movies out there that end with vulgar language. Especially B-movies. But how often do you have a mainstream release (albeit it's grossed less than $10 million so it's not THAT mainstream) that concludes with THAT language? My list of 139 movies comes from this MUCH MUCH longer list. (If you click the link and read the intro that talks about why a last line is important, it basically says the same thing I said. I'd like to point out that I hadn't read that until right now). I included every movie that used the word "fuck" in its last line. I Spit on Your Grave uses "bitch" but that's such an extreme B-movie.
Hornaday gets at something in her comment about Hepburn, Tracy, and the rom-com. Most Romantic Comedies are...well...fluffy. You're supposed to feel good at the end of them. Why? The nature of comedy isn't tragedy. Comedy = positive. Tragedy = negative. And Romance implies fantasy, whimsy. What romantic evening is negative? Romance can turn tragic. But the romance is positive. (See Romeo and Juliet). From Dictionary.com: "a novel or other prose narrative depicting heroic or marvelous deeds, pageantry, romantic exploits, etc." Hepburn and Tracy were noble, were heroic and marvelous. No where near the gutter.
We can look at Friends with Kids's last line as something unnecessary. Several reviewers said so. That the movie would have been fine without all the tasteless language.
But. What's the last line doing? Everything builds to that moment. It must be important in some context?
The context is that Jason (Scott) is trying to convince Julie (Westfeldt) that he loves her and is attracted to her sexually. This is a big deal because: 1, she's the mother of his child but they aren't together and have never dated. 2, she had loved him but he had rebuked her, so she's been cold and distant (for good reason). 3, throughout the movie, again and again and again and again, we're reminded how much Jason is not attracted to Julie. Like, all the fucking time we're reminded Jason does not find Julie attractive.
All the repetition of "Hey, you're not sexy. You don't have big boobs. You don't do it for me, sorry, doll," demands an equal and opposite reaction. If he had just said "You're beautiful," and kissed her passionately, is that really enough? I think we NEED emphasis of passion. Julia feels that way.
And one sign of passion: dirty talk. Foul language.
"Have sex with me," is quite different than "Fuck me."
"I want to make love to you," is sweet and makes you feel cared for (or it can scare the shit out of you because of the emotional connotation).
"I want to fuck you," makes you feel attractive (or dirty, it depends on your comfort level, but the implication is flattering whether you choose to accept it or not).
So okay. On that note, the last line makes sense. It's an antidote to the necrosis caused by all the times Jason's said "You have small boobs. You're not attractive. Your vagina is... I don't think you're hot, sexy, anything."
Are there other ways Westfeldt could have conveyed this? Sure.
But. The line gets at something else.
Friends with Kids is a comedy. But it's a subtle comedy. It's not The Hangover, it's not Annie Hall, though it has flavors of each. Most of the humor is observational, in the form of dialogue, banter between characters. There's no "punchline" moment. All jokes are delivered naturally, realistically, as though these characters aren't making the jokes for the audience--they're just talking to one another. Some reviewers have called Friends sit-com-y, and I think it's because of this style. I'd say it's a notch above sit-com. There are no beats, like in How I Met Your Mother. Returning to film examples, Friends is not stylized like, say, Caddy Shack. It's much more in the vein of Groundhog Day.
I don't remember that much situational or physical humor. But there are moments. And one of them, one that's central for the argument I'm making here, is the Baby Poop Scene. This I do remember.
Jason and Julia's son, Joe, has explosive diarrhea. This isn't shot dramatically. Jason doesn't react dramatically. In fact, Westfeldt, as director, treats the diarrhea the same way she treats the breakup of Jason/MJ and the breakup of Julia/Kurt, and Julia's pregnancy--she skips over the dramatic part completely, opting to look at the aftermath of the drama rather than the drama. Jason is just...covered with shit. It's like someone took a paint brush covered in paint and flicked it at him. The poo is splattered on his shirt, his neck, his chin. And he's not making a big deal about it. He's carrying on a conversation with MJ who is in the other room. When she peeks in to say goodbye to Jason, she's shocked. She doesn't overreact. She doesn't make a huge deal about her boyfriend being covered in baby doo-doo. She just...is shocked. Jason downplays it. It's situational comedy that other movies make a big deal of. Westfeldt chose for her movie to demonstrate a tremendous amount of restraint. And I think this is something she does throughout the film, in all areas. The dramatic dinner scene with Joh Hamm going HAM is intense, but, again, there's nothing Melodramatic (maybe Jason's speech about how much he knows about Julia, but it's said naturally). There's no fist fight. No threats of violence. The confrontation is carried out via dialogue. And you can't even say the dialogue is fierce. Both men, Hamm and Scott, speak with conviction, but they aren't swinging at each other (metaphorically). It's impolite but I think that's the most we can say about it.
Westfeldt continually undercuts moments of drama and comedy and romance.
Which brings us back to the last line. "Fuck the shit out of me." The language undercuts the typical sentiment of your typical romantic comedy. It's not sweet. It's not romantic. It's not said comedically either.
And there it is.
Friends with Kids, with its subdued Baby Discharge Scene, mocks every movie that's ever had a Dramatic Baby Chocolate Fountain Scene. Really, it mocks every movie that's ever had an over-the-top Anal Volcano scene involving anyone of any age, baby or adult. Jason's no-big-deal-attitude is a "calm the fuck down" to those movies.
Likewise, Westfeldt, with the final scene, with that final line, is mocking the G-rated romance most movies end with. The chaste kiss. The "make love to me" kiss. The happily-ever-after kiss. Those things are all great. But they don't mean anything if you don't have the "fuck the shit out of me" attitude--passion is a must in any relationship. On the flip-side, we know the "fuck the shit out of me" attitude isn't enough either, as evidenced by the failed relationship between Ben (Hamm) and Missy (Wiig).
You need both ratings: G- and R-.
So maybe Westfeldt brings the rom-com into the drain, but she gets at a truth no other rom-com has dared hit on.
Westfeldt culminates her movie with this line, with this truth, and it's said seriously, with conviction. But saying something as ridiculous as "Fuck the shit of me" as the last line of a movie, of a romantic comedy, is, I think, hilarious. It's dry humor. The same sort of dry humor used throughout the movie.
I think this is my favorite thing about the movie. The plot culminates with this truth, with something absolutely serious and vital. But the line, in such a prominent position, mocks movies of all types. It's too vulgar for Nice movies. So Friends with Kids is like "Suck it Nice movies." And it's too...ridiculous for a Serious movie. "Look how tough I am! We should be friends. [Wink]".
Did I Like It:
Yes. I found it enjoyable. And refreshing. I mean, it doesn't break the mold or anything. But I liked the shot selection, the acting, the tone, the humor.
It wasn't as funny as I thought it was going to be. I didn't know it would be so...drama-esque at times. I mean, I enjoyed the dramatic elements. I had imagined more...Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
I thought Chris O'Dowd killed it.
I was really pleased with the dramatic dinner conversation. I like when movies have the guts to really follow a moment through. Most mainstream movies MOVE. Scene to scene to scene. One of the things that makes Woody Allen nice is that he will let a conversation occur. Watch Red Desert, the trip to the wharf house. or Breathless! The entire movie is long moments. I think too many movies RUN from scene to scene. It's nice when they stop for a second.
I wonder how people who don't live in cities feel about this movie?
What It's Good For:
-romantic comedy not involving Katherine Heigl
-actors who want to see acting
-young screenplay writers (if this movie didn't have the "two plutonic friends having a baby together" gimmick, I don't know if it would have been made) (actually, it probably helps that Westfeldt is Hamm's girl and friends with the entire cast)
-people who like observational humor and foul language
-getting a peek at Megan Fox
-I think it's a good look at how to sidestep cliches
-fine for guys and girls to watch together
-other characters aren't always involved
-sort of predictable
-kind of long
-it's another NYC movie, but doesn't throw it in your face like some
-not for every parent
-if you're religious, you may take some offense at times
% Character / % Actor's personality or previous roles
-Romantic Comedies that aren't traditional: 500 Days of Summer; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; High Fidelity; Punch-Drunk Love; Juno; Sideways
-Jennifer Westfeldt as writer/actor: Kissing Jessica Stein
-Epic last lines: There Will Be Blood; The Dark Knight; Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl; Back to the Future
-Woody Allen movies: Annie Hall; Vicky Christina Barcelona; What's Up, Tiger Lily?; Manhattan Murder Mystery