Friends with Benefits – July 22, 2011
Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Emma Stone, Andy Samberg, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg
Written by: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck
Directed by: Will Gluck
The plot: “While trying to avoid the clichés of Hollywood romantic comedies, Dylan (Timberlake) and Jamie (Kunis) soon discover however that adding the act of sex to their friendship does lead to complications.” – IMDB
My thoughts: For as pompous as I am about being an intelligent feminist, I can’t help but like (some) romantic comedies. Some are just too much and some pull at my heart strings exactly as writers and directors intend. Luckily, there has been an upswing in writers attempting to make romantic comedies that are heavy on the comedy and attempt to be a bit more real.
Friends with Benefits didn’t disappoint but it wasn’t especially impressive either. I really liked the cast and I thought everyone acted pretty well. It’s clear that Justin Timberlake is by no means an Oscar-worthy actor, but he’s charismatic and seems natural on screen (he probably got used to it after starring in the marvelous Model Behavior). It was fun, cute, felt pretty real (quick interjection – there’s a plot involving Justin’s father and the onset of Alzheimer’s that was a nice addition and gave the character a bit of depth) and kept me interested the whole time.
However, I don’t know if I can complain about this enough, but I hate romantic comedies that acknowledge that it’s a romantic comedy and they still end in a horrendously cheesy, upbeat, cliched way. I mean, I know that they’re going to end that way – it’s a movie! But can’t it end in a more realistic but still happy way? Rom-coms are always full of grand gestures, lots of string pulling, and speeches. It gets a bit tiresome after a while.
It was nice to see a rom-com attempt to break out of its little bubble and poke fun of itself, but at the same time, it ended up giving in to exactly what it seemed to be trying to avoid. I say go all in or don’t bother.
That bit was definitely a very personal take on the movie but the movie was enjoyable. I laughed out loud a fair amount (particularly at Woody Harrelson’s gay character bro-ing out hard throughout the movie) and thought the characters were pretty genuine. All in all, not a let down.