Friends with Benefits: It’s Harder Than You Think (2011)

Posted: August 6, 2011 in Comedy, Romance

Dylan, a successful marketing director, has been identified for a high-profile gig in New York by headhunter Jamie. After feeling sold on the experience, Dylan makes the move and finds that life in New York is a little more hectic than he was used to. He quickly turns his relationship with Jamie into a social one. Finding themselves alone watching romantic comedies one night, they find they disagree about their interest in the movies but both would like to have sex without complication. Leading to an agreement, Dylan and Jamie begin their sexual relationship. As they start to become more entangled in each other’s lives and families, it appears that their relationship may be more complicated than they had hoped.

Starring: Justin Timberlake (Dylan Harper), Mila Kunis (Jamie Rellis), Patricia Clarkson (Lorna), Jenna Elfman (Annie Harper), Bryan Greenberg (Parker), Richard Jenkins (Mr. Harper), Woody Harrelson (Tommy Bollinger), Andy Samberg (Quincy), Shaun White (himself)

Justin Timberlake has started to emerge as a real actor, especially with a significant lineup of spotlight films. As with his role in Bad Teacher, he found a way to incorporate his singing background to enhance at least one scene’s comedic value. Overall, he is the funniest member of the cast and exudes the greatest amount of energy for his role. Mila Kunas provided a much more gripping performance in Black Swan but this is not the same type of movie. She has a sweetness and realness to her character while also delivering some good lines. There are times during the film where she falls a little short and seems distant in comparison to Timberlake. Patricia Clarkson is on screen just enough to give off her free-spirit charm without going too far. Woody Harrelson has a somewhat similar situation but actually steals every scene he’s in.

Will Gluck fell into an interesting situation with this film releasing well after the similar story of No Strings Attached, as directed Ivan Reitman. When looking at each film, there are some distinguishable differences that give each one their charm. NSA had a cute charm with a much more linear story. Portman and Kutcher had great chemistry, but their drama was a little lighter and the funny moments of the film were also a little more subdued. FWB certainly tries harder to be in your face. The interesting thing about the film is that it has a slightly slower buildup to the special relationship but definitely gets significantly more complicated with Jamie’s mother and Dylan’s father. Both films look at the development of a relationship from the less traditional hookup culture, but FWB takes a more significant look at the role family plays on one’s readiness and tendencies toward romance.

Timberlake and Kunis have some very funny and memorable scene, but there are some small flaws with the flow and predictability of the film that prevents it from going from good to great.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5

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