What happens when you take the producer of the classic dude-movie, Animal House, and put him in charge of a modern-day chick-flick? I’d say you achieve the impossible – you get a rom-com that encompasses all of the classic oh-so-adorable moments that women come to expect…along with the not-so-subtle dude-humor that makes grown men giggle.
No Strings Attached features a star-studded cast of Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, and Cary Elwes, just to name a few, but I’m pretty sure shock value has the starring role in this film. From the moment I heard the opening few lines, my jaw hit the floor, and it comfortably remained there throughout most of the movie.
Oh yeah…and these jaw-dropping opening lines? They were uttered by middle schoolers.
Portman and Kutcher’s characters meet at summer camp, and are reunited years later at a U of M frat party. I’ll be honest – I was secretly (okay…not so secretly) geeked that my alma mater was pretty prominently displayed on the big screen; I did, however, think it was an odd choice of location, though, since I’m fairly sure the whole film was shot in Cali.
After spending less than 24 hours together, Natalie and Ashton go their separate ways…again. He doesn’t call her, and she doesn’t text him (heck, they’re not even connected on FACEBOOK). They’ve essentially forgotten each other, until they are reunited by chance (again), years later in LA. Can you even be “reunited by chance” more than once? This sounds like a Cusack throwback to Serendipity. Regardless, after “one amazing night” together, Portman suggests they use each other for sex – you know, become “friends with benefits.”
It was an interesting role reversal to have the woman be the one to suggest the emotionally-defunct “relationship,” and one that I didn’t mind. Be prepared, though. I went into this movie thinking that the two were basically besties that make the leap into getting physical…and that’s not really the case. They end up being more like “acquaintances with benefits.” When you randomly bump into the same person a few times, that doesn’t make you friends in my book; instead, it just makes the person you’re hooking up with a little less sketchy than the rando you passed on your way to hail a cab.
As the movie progresses, we begin to really feel for our mildly dysfunctional main characters. Oh, and don’t worry ladies…there are definitely some classic, chick-flick-worthy moments woven into the latter part of the film. Plus, the supporting cast really stole the show for me. Kevin Kline was surprisingly believable as Kutcher’s washed-up-actor, skeezy dad. Mindy Kaling provided quality comic relief, as always, and Lake Bell was, once again, charmingly awkward.
The dialogue is daring – there’s no question about that – but it was this witty (and, at times, crude) scripting that kept me on my toes and kept the theater in fits of laughter.
So…can you have just sex, without emotion? You’ll have to see No Strings Attached to find out…it’s now playing at a theater near you!
**CW50 received passes courtesy of Allied Advertising