The subject of friends with benefits usually makes for lackluster Hollywood scripts. No Strings Attached is no exception. Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher star as acquaintances who meet occasionally over the years and eventually get together in as sex friends who “use each other for sex at all hours of the day and night.” The story obviously wants us to root for these two wacky kids to get together in a real relationship, but gives us no real reason to do so.
There are also subplots about his career as a hopeful writer in show business and his father (Kevin Kline) dating his former girlfriend (Ophelia Lovibond), but neither of these amount to much. And, in true Apatowian homage (nicer than saying rip-off), we also get several scenes with and his friends (Jake M. Johnson, Ludacris) and and her friends (Greta Gerwig, Mindy Kaling) discussing relationships, sex, and menstruation with slightly inappropriate (but only occasionally funny) ways.
Despite it’s title, and with the exception of a single montage, this movie has far less sex than advertised. It also poorly navigates the journey between the cute love story it wants to be and raunchy sex film it teases itself to be in order to pull in a male audience.
The blu-ray includes commentary from director Ivan Reitman (wow, it’s been a loooong time since GhostBusters), deleted and alternative scenes, and a few featurettes on love, friends with benefits, and a behind the scenes look at the fake television show Kutcher character works for in the film.
No Strings Attached actually starts with a quite similar premise to that of A Lot Like Love (which, coincidentally, also stars Kutcher), about two people meeting over and over and not getting together, but it lacks the heart of that film when in decides to become a sex comedy (without a lot of comedy, or sex). We’ll have to wait and see if Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake can do better with this same subject matter later this summer.