The contemporary Hollywood rom-com seems to involve thrusting an A-list cover star like Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl into an unlikely situation with a vacant hunk of the week. You know the kind - the posters will usually feature the two stars leaning back-to-back with pearly-white grins.
Jennifer Westfeldt clearly isn't hugely enamoured by these feather-light aspirational concoctions because her new film Friends with Kids, which she writes, directs, produces and stars in, strives to be something a little bit more.
The far-fetched plot setup is there, as two unlucky-in-love BFFs Julie and Jason (Westfeld and Parks and Recreation's Adam Scott) decide to have a child together. There is no romantic attraction, but the pair believe that their offspring will get a stable upbringing and won't have to face the trauma of seeing mum and dad's messy divorce.
Their coupled-up friends, Bridesmaids cast members Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm, struggle to come to terms with this arrangement - particularly when the pair begin new relationships with businessman Kurt (Edward Burns) and actress Mary Jane (Megan Fox). Naturally, Julie and Jason's unbreakable friendship threatens to heat up into something more.
This film also makes smart observations about friendship. Conversations are often frank and honest, and in one scene around the dinner table Hamm's Ben has harsh words to say about Julie and Jason's progressive approach to parenthood.
Westfeldt seems acutely aware that friends have the capability to be cruel to each other, and it's the kind of perceptive scene that likely wouldn't be found in a factory-line Hollywood rom-com. It also helps give Friends with Kids some dramatic weight to go with the witty repartee.
The wheels only begin to fall off towards the end when the story heads to a place you completely expect it to. Things get wrapped up neatly and rather abruptly, but for all its sentimentality, it's still a refreshingly grown-up romantic comedy that sticks out from the crowd.
Praise should go to the multi-tasking Westfeldt, whose script pulls its characters to the foreground and never resorts to degrading them to chase a cheap laugh (yes, we're thinking of you Sex and the City 2!).