Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friends With Benefits

How Can We Be Lovers If We Can't Be Friends?

Director: Will Gluck
Writers: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck, Harley Peyton
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Richard Jenkins, Woody Harrelson

Friends with Benefits movie image

SYNOPSIS: Dylan and Jamie, after their last break-ups, decide to close themselves off from the perfect "Hollywood" romances and have casual sex with each other, not realizing that even being friends with benefits comes with its own set of complications.

REVIEW: Fired Up and Easy A director Will Gluck takes a stab at a slightly more adult, if much more raunchy, romantic comedy with Friends with Benefits. Coming out at the peak of the Summer season, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis still have to contend with being second fiddle as a "me, too" to Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman's No Strings Attached released at the start of this year. Both films are quirky, silly and focusing on unattached intimate contact, but which one, if either at all, come out the winner? HotButterReviews.com gave No Strings Attached a 2.5 out of 5 on the Popcorn Meter for their effort in the casual sex sub-genre of romantic comedies. Let's see how Friends With Benefits fared.

Justin Timberlake, drawing on his boyish charm, film street cred with Alpha Dog, and comedy chops culled from his SNL experiences, tackles his first truly leading man romantic comedy role. Mila Kunis, no stranger to film with turns in The Book of Eli and Black Swan, and no stranger to comedy with television's That 70s Show, joins Timberlake opposite as his leading lady. Dylan (Timberlake), an internet blogger entrepreneur in Los Angeles, is lured to New York City by corporate head hunter Jamie (Kunis) for an editor position at GQ magazine. Both of them have run into and out of bad relationships in the past, and as their friendship develops they drunkenly decide one night that they would make a perfect casual sex, booty-call couple. Since one is emotionally shut-down and the other is emotionally damaged, they start having a great time with each other - and each other's bodies! But as with any romantic comedy, one or both start to have real feelings with the other and the casual relationship starts having unexpected complications and turns.

Trying to complicate the story more are Jamie's flighty mother Lorna (Patricia Clarkson), Dylan's sometimes lucid father (Richard Jenkins) cared by Dylan's sister Annie (Jenna Elfman) and her son Sam (Nolan Gould), and a GQ sports editor Tommy (Woody Harrelson) trying to persuade Dylan that he should be gay. Completing the cast are silly opening scene cameos from Andy Samberg as Jamie's soon-to-be ex-boyfriend Quincy and Emma Stone as Dylan's soon-to-be ex-girlfriend Kayla. Even snow boarder Shaun White plays himself for comic effect.

Timberlake is quirky and funny as one would expect him to be, although his dramatic, tender side does not play as strongly as his Alpha Dog role. Mila Kunis is strong and sexy, with her exotic looks and sharp tongue, weaving her Black Swan mystique into a lighter, funny lead. Serious moments with Dylan and his once mighty father, and Jamie and her commitment-phobic mother keep the film grounded, but would have worked better is a more serious film.

If you like No Strings Attached, you will probably enjoy Friends With Benefits, but it is certainly is no The Proposal. It is interesting, though, that Kutcher and Kunis both worked on That 70s Show, Kunis and Portman both worked in Black Swan, and Timberlake was Punk'd by Kutcher. Is this history repeating itself, or are we just getting punk'd again?

WORTH: Matinee or Netflix

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