MOVIE REVIEW- Rich 'Friends': Aniston hangs with new gang
Uh-oh, I just enjoyed a chick flick! Does that mean I'm gay? The question is relevant, since a possibly misunderstood metrosexual is a major character in Friends with Money.
Nicole Holofcener proved she could make a good movie with 2001's Lovely and Amazing. Now she tries to show she can be commercial. Why else would she put Jennifer Aniston in a picture with "friends" in the title?
Maybe because she's the right actress for the role, and Friends with Money fits the story as well as any title could? No, it may be true, but even Indiewood isn't naïve enough for that to be the reason.
It could have been called "married friends," because that's the other distinction of the three couples Olivia (Aniston) hangs with. All in their late thirties or early forties, Olivia, Franny (Joan Cusack), Christine (Catherine Keener), and Jane (Frances McDormand) have been friends for a long time. As one of their husbands points out, they wouldn't be likely to become friends today; but friendships coast on inertia.
Franny brought her own money to her marriage to Matt (Greg Germann); they're the richest of Olivia's rich friends. Christine is married to David (Jason Isaacs), with whom she writes screenplays, but they haven't had sex in over a year. Jane designs clothes, and her husband Aaron (Simon McBurney) has a small company that distributes organic products.
Wherever he goes, everyone (including strangers) assumes Aaron is gay– Christine says it's "like somebody has a tree growing out of his head and nobody says anything." He blows off the more obvious men who hit on him but allows another Aaron (Ty Burrell) to get close because he also wears a wedding ring.
Olivia taught 11th grade until the snobbery and condescension of her wealthy 90210 students became too much. Now she cleans houses while trying to decide what she wants to do when she grows up. Her negotiation with unemployed Marty (Bob Stephenson) to clean his pigsty of a house shows she's no businesswoman. She is, however, a professional freeloader, as she has to be to afford luxuries like skin crème and pot.
While Olivia stalks a married man with whom she had a two-month "one night stand" Franny sets her up with a blind date with her personal trainer, Mike (Scott Caan). It begins disastrously but develops into a relationship of sorts.
Men come and in some cases go, but friendship is constant in these women's lives, even though Jane is in a perpetual bad mood for reasons other than the obvious, ever railing at life's little injustices.
Holofcener continues growing as a filmmaker, her seriously funny writing capturing the naturalness of life and providing very good roles for very good actresses. (She gave Keener her first leading role a decade ago in Walking and Talking.) The men aren't bad either, but they're as easily overlooked as needles in an estrogenstack.
Friends with Money is like Company without Stephen Sondheim's songs. The dialogue that takes their place is no less worthy.