Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Opens Friday, January 21st, 2011, Rated R
Run Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Greta Gerwig, Kevin Kline
Directed by Ivan Reitman (Meatballs, Ghost Busters, Kindergarten Cop, Father's Day)
So, do you think that you can have an ongoing sexual relationship with somebody and remain only friends? That's the primary question in "No Strings Attached", and it's a loaded question...the answer is, "of course not, silly." Had the question been approached in a real way, a true examination into how relationships have changed through the years, then the movie would have been a compelling modern-day look at sex and how men and women view it. Instead, "No Strings Attached" is a raunchy and shallow rom-com, predictable in the worst of ways, but funny enough to be worthy of a one-night commitment.
The Plot. Natalie Portman is Emma and Ashton Kutcher is Adam. The two have known each other since their teenage years, and run into each other over the years a la "When Harry Met Sally." But all comparisons with that movie end there...Adam and Emma are not real characters with real relationship issues. When the two finally "do it" one day, Emma makes it clear to him that they are not to have feelings for one another. They are not to cuddle, or act in any of the normal ways a couple does. In fact, they are not to be a couple at all...free to see others and free of any real commitment. We all know what comes of this, if we've ever seen a movie before.
Shock & Eeeww. Surprisingly, the movie is chock full of shock value...From the opening scene we realize these characters will say and do anything. The supporting players around Portman and Kutcher make the film enjoyable to say the least, none more outrageously funny than Kevin Kline, who chews up each scene as Kutcher's former-TV-star father. Also, a break-out comedic performance by the nerdy hot-girl-in-waiting Lake Bell, who plays Adam's co-worker...Bell's been in a bunch of stuff (according to imdb) but I'd never taken notice of her until now.
You also don't want to miss gags like a mix tape that is made for Portman to deal with her time of the month...yes, a gift of songs themed around flowing, and bleeding love...does that gross you out? See this movie with caution then.
Role Reversal. In this tale, it is the man who wants the relationship, and the woman who cannot emotionally attach. Portman's character is the most interesting of the two, who really struggles with what she wants and who she is...I couldn't help but get annoyed with her as the film progressed though, a typical "hot girl" who treats the nice guy like crap until he is no longer available, before then becoming interested. Gag. As for Kutcher, he is very funny and likeable, but his character is just an unrealistic Prince Charming...he has no flaws, the perfect bod, the perfect charm, the perfect mix of sensitivity and manliness that made many women in the theatre I was in ooh and aaah at his countless shirtless/pantsless scenes...
Skins. ...And there are many. So if you're a Kutcher fan, you'll probably want to see the film. And if you think Portman is sexy, you also don't want to miss, to see the filth that comes out of her mouth and to see her exist as a sex-craved unattached single gal.
Happily Ever After? But despite the many funny scenes and strong supporting cast of talented comedic actors, "No Strings Attached" eventually falls into the trap of all romantic comedies by taking itself too seriously. When Kutcher and Portman finally have their moment towards the end of the film, it makes you want to vomit in your mouth just a tiny bit.
Whether or not men and women can have sex without feeling attached is irrelevant...in the world of movies, of course no such thing is possible. I like my comedies light, but would it hurt to throw in a touch of reality or some well-placed satire on current culture?
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