89. Friends with Benefits (2011)

No ‘No Strings Attached’

Directed by: Will Gluck
Written by: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman
Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake and Patricia Clarkson

If Friends with Benefits invited attention as simply another version of the Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher match-made-in-hell No Strings Attached, it should at least be seen as a BETTER version of the rom-com that looks at the ‘fuck buddy’ relationship in today’s day and age of Facebook, iPads, texting, emailing and photo-sending every two seconds. Wow, romance really is dead, isn’t it?

It's OK. Emotional attachment isn't involved in your relationship with this movie.

Dylan (Timberlake) takes a job as head of art direction for GQ Magazine in New York after being persuaded by head hunter, Jamie (Kunis). What starts off as a fun and innocent friendship soon becomes a convenient sexual relationship that promised to keep out emotions, feelings of attachment and control. But as we would expect in any rom-com, such emotional distance is more easily said than done. And if such rules and agreements to keep emotions out of sex are cemented by placing your hand on an iPad bible that keeps conking out… well, how genuine can that be?

Friends with Benefits follows a predictable plot. SURPRISE! And as likeable as the characters are, they smack of the same humour and sharp, fast talk that we get from rom-coms that line the shelves of our video store. The film’s attempt to find some depth or complexity in the characters through family issues is feeble, and could have been replaced with more thought-provoking ideas about modern relationships – and if not that, then at least some funnier jokes.

While Timberlake and Kunis have a chemistry that is sure to exceed people’s expectations, it seems the two have more fun than we do. Nevertheless, Friends with Benefits is no No Strings Attached and that in itself is a great accomplishment.


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