Thursday, 26 May 2011

Film Review: No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached attempts to make a romcom out of a modern and less conventional form of relationships, 'fuck buddies'. Emma (Portman) and Adam (Kutcher) are two young things whose paths seem to keep crossing every now and again. After another chance meeting the couple finally get together and embark on a purely sexual relationship without all the emotional involvement. Naturally things become more complicated than the original agreement envisaged.

You don't need a PhD in Romcomonomics from the University of Predictable Papp to guess what happens next. Feelings begin to simmer, crisis occurs, only for reconciliation, unicorns and rainbows to win the day. Admittedly there are some amusing snappy one-liners and No Strings Attached can be funny in places. Adam's friend Wallace (Ludacris) for example chastises Adam and his Dad (Kline) for being "tunnel buddies" after finding out that they've both been banging Adam's ex (Lovibond). But these moments are brief, the majority of the material revolving around brazen and, worse still, flatly delivered sex jokes.

Such is the insipid nature of No Strings Attached that it is rather difficult to identify with. Kutcher is stiff and it appears a wonder how Portman won an Oscar recently, turning in a lifeless performance completely the opposite from her role in Black Swan. While Portman is supposed to be the awkward, emotionally unavailable partner in the relationship, she looks to be more out of her comfort zone with the role than anything else. You'd be right to question whether Portman can act at all and while the setting is familiar for Kutcher there just seems to be no care for it. Likewise, Adam's Dad is just a shameless copy of Dustin Hoffman's character in Meet the Parents who commands nowhere near the same amount of charisma or charm.

The one thing No Strings Attached does have going for it is its slightly different take on the romcom genre. However it ultimately all comes back to base in the end. It's very difficult to have this sort of a relationship without feelings becoming stirred in one of the involved parties and as such the conclusion was always inevitable. Consequently it is not quite as unique as it tries to be from the outset. While the premise is reasonably solid everything about No Strings Attached is just 'off' in a wholly unsatisfying manner. Hopefully the carbon-copy Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, might deal with the whole fuck buddy dictum much better.