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I gave this movie an 8/10 simply because it will keep you laughing the
majority of the time. Sure the ending is predictable and a few of the
background actors deliver lackluster performances but Natalie Portman
and Ashton Kutcher fit very nicely together as the main characters, you
could really tell they had fun working together.
I see a lot of other reviews criticizing Portman for "stooping to this level" and I'm not too sure why, maybe they didn't go see it in the right frame of mind...this movie is what it is, a romantic comedy about two friends who decide to take their relationship to the next level without having any of the commitments and "duties" of being an actual couple, that's what the trailers showed it as, that's what the actors described it as, nothing was a surprise...she did a cute, funny romantic comedy, it's not like she dove head first into the adult film industry.
Will this movie be nominated for awards, probably, will it win, probably not, but overall it was cute, it was funny, and I left the theater feeling like the $10 I paid for a ticket was well worth it.
The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should give
their awards conditionally. If you receive an Academy Award for best
actor/actress, and then demean it by acting poorly in a subsequent
film, you should forfeit the award. This is akin to behaving in a
manner unbecoming a professional. Now, I wasn't a big fan of Black
Swan, but I did think Natalie Portman deserved the Best Actress award.
After watching No Strings Attached, I wonder if I, and others, had been
fooled. Admittedly, she didn't have much of a script to work with here
in No Strings. At best, her character was two dimensional. But then,
she was one of the producers. You'd think she would have been able to
tell a flawed script when she saw one.
Like most romantic comedies, you know the ending from the first scene in the movie. This, however, does not mean the film or script is necessarily bad. After all, you know the salesman will die before you even watch Death of a Salesman. It's how you get to that ending that has to be interesting. And in No Strings Attached, that journey is tedious.
Ashton Kutcher, rapidly evolving into the Hugh Grant of American romcoms, plays his usual sensitive, cute but naughty puppy dog role. He basically serves as the eye candy for the female viewers. This is too bad because, as we saw in The Butterfly Effect, he does have talent. Both he and Portman's character lack depth and we can't help but wonder what he sees in her that's so special. No chemistry exists between them or any of the other actors in this film. So there is no romance in this romantic comedy and, what comedy there is, is sophomoric. I am sure that a few 13-year-olds were rolling in the aisles, but that might just be from eating a bad hot dog, which would certainly have been more enjoyable.
I heard that Portman wanted this movie to be the female answer to The Hangover. Personally, I'd prefer a five alarm hangover to watching this movie again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"No Strings Attached" works precisely for one reason, its script.
Paramount Pictures, the studio backing the film, allowed the script to
be R rated, meaning that "grown up" words, the ones that are four
letters and need to be bleeped out from standard radio and television
could be said. For a film that is about casual sex--one that tries to
portray its characters as realistic--these words need to be included in
the characters' dialogue. So, yes, thank you Paramount for allowing the
script to be R rated.
The plot centers on two characters who have been friends for many years, seeing each other only once in a while over that timeframe. We see each encounter through flashbacks right at the beginning of the film. Eventually, we move to the present, where Emma (Natalie Portman) has moved into the same city as Adam (Ashton Kutcher). They meet up, and decide that they should hang out some time.
Adam ended a relationship with his girlfriend months ago, and one day finds out that his father is now dating the same girl. After some razzing by his friends, he decides to drunkenly call every girl's number that is in his cell phone, in hopes that one of them will have sex with him.
He eventually passes out, waking up naked in the company of four people, one of which happens to be Emma. They end up having sex, and decide to be "sex buddies". They won't be in a formal relationship, but they will call one another up if they are "in the mood", so to speak. If either character starts to actually feel attraction for the other, they would call this agreement off, and move on with their lives. No feelings would be involved in their interactions with one another, and therefore there would be none hurt of things went sour.
"Where's the conflict?" is a question that you might be thinking to yourself right now. Well, that comes from one of the characters, (no, I won't tell you which), developing feelings for the other. The rest of the film focuses on the characters' relationship following this revelation.
If you are now thinking to yourself that you know almost exactly how the movie ends, well then you aren't alone. Just by the trailer for "No Strings Attached", it's not difficult to figure out the film's conclusion. It won't throw many curveballs your way throughout, and is overall fairly predictable, with only a couple twists that are really any bit surprising. And even those are only surprising because of their timing, not because of what the twist actually was.
Although, I'll admit that I didn't want the film to end. I liked the characters, and I wanted to continue to see what would happen to them. In fact, when "No Strings Attached" finally did wrap-up, I think they chose the wrong point to end it. It ends on a little bit of a cliffhanger, where as if it finished earlier, that wouldn't have happened.
As a matter of fact, the ending was actually the worst part of the film, just because it didn't really give a solid conclusion to the story. And no, I'm not hoping for a sequel, even though one is definitely possible. Does that information make you second-guess how you think the film will end? It probably shouldn't.
Anyway, thanks to the R-rated script, the characters actually felt believable and realistic. They still suffer from some of the flaws that come from being in a romantic comedy, mainly their awkward interactions with almost everyone and their somewhat idealistic nature, but that comes with the territory. They are both likable characters, who are actually fair well acted for this kind of thing.
Natalie Portman especially gives a very solid performance, actually being the more energetic person in the duo. Ashton Kutcher is someone I've been told isn't a very good actor, and while I didn't feel he was great, sometimes not really seeming 100% on-board with what he was supposed to be doing, he was competent as the more reserved Adam. The pair had an easy-going chemistry, and because of the script, felt real enough to believe in.
Thanks to the characters being believable and likable, when the film tries to make you emotional, it succeeds. You want to see both characters happy, and when they aren't, you feel sad yourself. When things go right, you almost want to cheer, although it doesn't work quite that well. You'll feel emotion, but not enough to actually bring it out of you. This isn't a tear-jerker or a feel-good film, despite having moments that come close to these levels.
No, what "No Strings Attached" tries to do most is to make you laugh. And it will do so, as it is a very funny film. The aforementioned awkward moments and timing are quite charming, the dialogue will make you laugh, and even some of the situations, (sadly many of them ruined in the trailer), will make you chuckle. It isn't really a laugh-out-loud film, but one that will make you laugh quietly to yourself, every now and then bringing out a full-blown laugh.
I liked "No Strings Attached", probably more than I rightfully should have. Regardless, I did enjoy it-- having a good time while watching it. The characters were likable, the plot, while predictable, was fun to watch, and the film was on the whole pretty funny. It doesn't do anything new to the romantic comedy genre, but it's an entertaining film that will give you a good time at the theatre, and that's really all you can ask for.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Natalie Portman comes out of award season on top with her numerous Best
Actress Awards for her performance in "Black Swan" including the
Critic's Choice Award, the Golden Globe Award and an Oscar in the near
future. Now she takes on the romantic comedy genre for the first time
since her 2004 hit "Garden State". Her costar Ashton Kutcher on the
other hand is no stranger to the romantic comedy genre with most of his
recent films falling into this genre ("Killers", "Valentine's Day", and
"What Happens In Vegas"). Together they create comedy through the
awkwardly realistic chemistry between their characters Emma and Adam.
Their quirky relationship begins when they are both sexually frustrated
teenagers at summer camp. This leads them to becoming acquaintances
throughout the early years of their relationship until they are thrown
into each other's lives for the last time. Emma is a successful doctor
who works eighty hours a week and is not looking for a relationship,
while Adam is an aspired writer looking for a break working at a
"gleeish" television show. Their latest encounter leads the two into a
sexual dilemma as they make a pact to enter into a relationship with
"No Strings Attaches" in other words no commitment, just sex. However,
eventually the strings have to be attached.
The best part of the film is the surprisingly accurate and realistic interactions that Emma and Adam together. They are definitely not faking it as they recreate relationship situations by acting weird around each other, which is exactly what you do when you are in a relationship. Their supporting cast was also very important to the entertainment of the film and the theme of differentiation between relationships. The most notable character being Kevin Klines portrayal of Adam's father Alvin as he dates his own son's ex-girlfriends. The film is all about comedy aspect of all of these relationships and leaves out drama for the most part without totally forgetting about it. This does not change the fact that the film has a very touching ending no matter how cliché it is.
If it wasn't for the great casting of Portman and Kutcher at the center of the film creating superb chemistry all would be lost among ever other rom-com. This is because the film isn't original at all. It is just a basic Hollywoodized picture perfect romantic comedy, but sometimes a movie just barely lucks out when a couple stars are able to salvage the overdone cliché storyline.
Many may say that the film is too similar to the recent release of "Love and Other Drugs" just a few months ago. However, no matter how similar the basic plot structure of these two films is, they are very different films. While "Love and Other Drugs" follows the purely sexual relationship of its two main characters in the same way that "No Strings Attached" does, it also delves into the realms of the genre of drama. On the other hand "No Strings Attached" avoids those depths and instead relies on the awkward comedy of romantic see it now bliss.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How about this for a unique movie premise: Boy and girl accidentally
get reunited after several years, decide to skip all the work that goes
into a relationship and settle for a strictly sexual one. They end up
falling for each other, tempers flare, and break up. Moderately
dramatic event occurs that brings them back together again. It may
sound like the outline of every Matthew McConaughey film, and now it's
also the recycled theme of No Strings Attached.
Adam (Ashton Kutcher) is some unspecified assistant on a television show, whose father (Kevin Kline, in what surely is one of his more forgettable roles) happens to be an extremely famous actor. He's also completely irresponsible and hedonistic, and somehow we're supposed to believe that he'd even bother to get a doctor's note so he could buy medical marijuana. Adam finds out that dad is now dating his bimbo ex-girlfriend. Distraught over this, Adam goes on a drinking binge that ends up reuniting him with Emma (Natalie Portman), a gifted doctor in residency in a teaching hospital. They end up in a strictly sexual relationship, and you'll figure out exactly how things are going to play out before the wacky sex location montage scene has finished. Emma is fine with this arrangement as she doesn't want to get too close to anyone. Adam wants more. The falling out is inevitable, as is the reunion (spoiler alert, everything works out just fine!).
This film follows the rom-com playbook to the letter. Emma of course has several roommates, one of which is the required effeminate overweight gay guy. Token black guy? That role is played by Ludicrous, the friend of Adam that shows up occasionally to give the standard bro "you should be banging her" advise. And of course the other women in Adam's life are either extremely socially awkward, or lesbians. Despite taking place in Los Angeles, you'd think it was more like a small town in Iowa the way everyone bumps into each other at the coffee shop or just walking down the street.
The jokes tend to fall flat, with the funniest scene involving Adam showing up at Emma's apartment with a menstruation mix CD (i.e. Sunday Bloody Sunday, other blood related songs) to entertain her and her fellow suffering roommates, one of who remarks that her underwear resembles a crime scene. I should point out that this film was directed by Ivan Reitman who also directed The Ghostbusters. What made him read this screenplay and decide that he must make this film? Every scene goes on just a little too long, and some of them don't make any sense. Example: when Adam gestures to Lucy, the awkward assistant director of the show he works on to sit down, she looks at the chair and says "oh look, a chair", pauses and then sits down. What was the point of that? Ed Wood films had better editing that this. None of the characters are remotely likable and most are barely more than ugly stereotypes.
Unless you really need to hear some jokes about Ashton Kutcher's penis, pass on this one. This movie will be in the five dollar bin at Wal-Mart in six months. And at that price, you'd still be better off with a random McConaughey rom-com instead.
What is most fascinating about this movie is that it's a raunchy rom-com from the female perspective. Knowing that the film was written by a woman prior to my viewing it made the nuances jump out to me. It's those nuances and that perspective that make the film enjoyable. No one scene or moment merits more then a minor chuckle but the characters themselves expand and grow as the story unfolds. It's hard to care about the leads at first because there's no set up or real establishment of character. Then, they kind of grow on you even though neither really rang true for me in any real world sense. Natalie Portman is great as many would expect but Ashton Kutcher did a fine job as well. I've seen others criticizing his performance but I think that's based on a pre-determined hatred of him rather than on his work. The supporting characters were VERY weak and useless save for the father character played by the wonderful Kevin Kline. Overall, better than I was expecting it to be.
I had very low expectations for No Strings Attached. The couple would
make the decision to use each, one would fall for the other, and in the
end they would live happily ever after. I was correct about the overall
story line, but, impressively, the writers found a way the mix in
enough comedy to keep you entertained for the full 110 minutes. On top
of that, there is enough cutsie romance to make for the perfect date
night movie. Comedy to make you laugh and romance to cheer up any
romantic girl.... sounds like a romantic comedy to me!
Natalie Portman shows her range of acting abilities by having two extremely different films in theaters at the same time. I was thoroughly impressed with her ability to drop the comedic one liners and portray a unaffectionate woman who's fallen in love realistically. Comparing this to her award-winning role in Black Swan made her abilities even more impressive. I cannot say the same for Ashton Kutcher. He has a great face and is great at comedic acting. However, each serious, romantic scene he was in became unrealistic and uncomfortable.
Overall, this is the perfect date night or girls night movie. It has some great comedic moments and brings in the romance that most ladies love to see. If you are looking for a light-hearted romantic comedy, this is a great choice.
See more reviews at http://burningreview.blogspot.com/
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Romantic comedies need a good kick in the pants, and an aging Ivan
Reitman ain't the guy to do it. "No Strings Attached," the first of at
least three 2011 films about non-committal sex (with "Friends with
Benefits" and "Hall Pass" in hot pursuit), is only sparsely amusing and
never insightful. Big surprise. Who would have guessed that a
64-year-old director would be the wrong choice for a movie about hip
people half his age? "No Strings Attached" might have been a decent
film had it followed through on its premise, but that it falls victim
to just about every romcom trapping negates the most potentially
interesting thing it has going for it.
Everyone involved has proved themselves elsewhere. Reitman directed legendary '80s comedies "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters" before churning out a string of stinkers, including "My Super Ex Girlfriend" in 2006. Stars Natalie Portman (Emma) and Ashton Kutcher (Adam) are similarly defenseless against the lousy script. For my money, Portman still put on the best performance of 2010 in "Black Swan," and by comparison her turn here is particularly disappointing. Kutcher is the weakest link, but has consistently proved he can hold his own in otherwise lame duck comedies like "Valentine's Day."
But between the bad direction, worse script, and lazy performances, "No Strings Attached" is a triple threat. Its worst blunder is that Emma and Adam's relationship is unbelievable, and their chemistry is nonexistent. Fledgling screenwriter Elizabeth Meriwether posits a female lead that flip-flops her stance on monogamy every two scenes, and Portman doesn't even attempt to sell it. Emma comes off pragmatic one minute and off her rocker the next. It makes less sense still given that her relationship with Adam isn't anything special to begin with. The B- romance between Greta Gerwig and Jake M. Johnson, friends of our principle couple, is actually markedly more naturalistic and compelling. It's a shame they're on screen so infrequently.
Meriwether's script is also criminally overlong. Two-hour comedies need to die a slow and painful death; there's just no reason "No Strings Attached" should exceed the 100-minute mark. What's worse, the audience has little expectation for when the film will end. More than once, a picturesque finale will align only for Emma to inexplicably get cold feet. Or Adam's father to take ill. The bait and tease might work if the better-late-than-never conclusion defied expectation, but in all likelihood you already know exactly how it will end. The biggest surprise is how much melodramatic filler we have to wade through on the way.
"No Strings Attached," like last year's mediocre "Love and Other Drugs" articulates the pressing need for innovation in Hollywood's romantic comedies. Depicting a relationship built on causal sex isn't especially progressive, and Ivan Reitman isn't one of the directors I'm especially interested in seeing discuss sexuality. Then again, he barely clears his throat on the subject; for a film about sex, "No Strings Attached" is pretty much sterile despite its R rating. Intellectually, the film is a solid PG-13. Our characters generally don't behave with the nuance expected of two 30-year-olds, and Meriwether relies on decrepit genre archetypes rather than cause and effect to progress the plot.
All told, Reitman's latest is unworthy of recommendation despite falling short of being an outright waste of time. It does feature a few genuinely funny moments that help excuse its crippling formula, but it never asserts itself or challenges the classic romantic comedy blueprint as much as its premise might indicate. Reitman deserves a kick in the pants every bit as much as the genre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie has an awful start, but it improved a LOT. As was stated in
another review "can I finger you" is an awful way to start. It's the
perfect way to show the attitude of an ass. Moving through the movie
the characters played by Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher made the
story real. They also changed a lot through the film. Kutcher's two
male friends did not add a lot except to make rude suggestions.
Thankfully the two main characters carried the film. No Strings
Attached showed how people need attachment, not just to feel good. My
wife says I like "chick flicks" better than she does, and I rate this
one pretty high because of the story.
I liked how Portman was NOT a shallow shy character, but affirmed her own needs, even at her own expense. I like how Kutchner showed how we need attachment, not just self-gratification with another.
Let me start by saying that I wanted to watch this movie again
immediately after it ended.
Not only is there a plethora of one-liners that we will relive with our friends for years to come (think of the timeless quips from Super Troopers, Anchorman, and The Hangover), but also a deep story line. Normally, that would turn me off, I like my comedies to be funny and I don't wanna think about too much. But the characters are so entrancing and relatable that you want to know the back stories, you care about these people and their relationship, you live their feelings and don't mind. The story was different than I had expected from seeing previews and at first I was apprehensive. Apart from a couple intimate scenes, I did not revisit this feeling after getting pulled in.
The Soundtrack completely rocked, including an awesome rendition of "99 Problems" by Hugo, and old school favorites, like "Bleeding Love" which get's a great scene with Natalie Portman that will have you crying through your laughter and feeling right along with her. On that note, ALL of the characters are really engaging, you want to be friends with all of these people, and the parts are played SO well! Even the bits.
Overall, this was just an amazing experience. I love this movie, will own it, and buy it again of I lose it.
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