No Strings Attached: Friendship Has Its Benefits (2011)

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Comedy, Romance

If given the chance, would you enter a relationship solely based on sex? Once college hookups, Emma and Adam have randomly come across each other for another chance at something, but neither are sure what that could be. Emma’s hours and personal issues have left her losing interest in relationships beyond sex, so she sees an opportunity to take advantage of an old friendship. With the sexual chemistry exuding from their relationship, can Adam keep up the act that he doesn’t want anything more and can Emma maintain her wall between friends with benefits and entering into a real relationship?

Starring: Natalie Portman (Emma Kurtzman), Ashton Kutcher (Adam Franklin), Kevin Kline (Alvin), Cary Elwes (Dr. Metzner), Mindy Kaling (Shira), Lake Bell (Lucy), Greta Gerwig (Patrice), Olivia Thirby (Katie), Ludacris (Wallace), Talia Balsam (Sandra Kurtzman), Ben Lawson (Sam)

Natalie Portman had a strong performance in Black Swan, but this allowed her to follow a lighter path and flex her comedy muscle. While she played a strong-willed, modern woman, she also encompassed the sweet and approachable side she exudes so well. Ashton Kutcher is no stranger to this genre of movie, but he truly makes for a likable character who you honestly want to see find success in love. Beyond that, there are a number of fun supporting characters (most notably Ludacris and Mindy Kaling), each providing a slew of one-liners. Lake Bell plays a stronger role later in the movie, but appears a little over-the-top in scenes only with Kutcher. Cary Elwes appears to be the oddest one out of the cast, partially as a love interest and partially as a background character. Kevin Kline has some moments, in particular with Ophelia Lovibond, but his character either has some real respect issues or simply does not come off as believable.

The fun thing about this movie is that a lot of recent love movies with big name actors/actresses have included a large cast and multiple relationship (see upcoming New Year’s Eve). Instead, the focus on this one relationship does more to show off the complexity of modern relationships. The play between Portman and Kutcher is truly strong and has great relatability to real relationships. One-liners and thematic jokes generally make these movies a success, and this one accomplishes the pattern well while not appearing too formulaic. The period mix was a particularly humorous moment and any interaction between Ludacris and Kutcher.

This was a cute break in my path to the Oscars. The movie was surprisingly more funny than many similar films in this genre in recent years.

Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5


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