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2011 will probably go down as the year Hollywood tells us having F*
buddies is OK and encouraged, with no less than three films this year
set around the premise of pure sex without strings or emotions
attached, with Love and Other Drugs and No Strings Attached setting the
precedence earlier with an incredibly good looking cast in all sorts of
undress - Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and Ashton
Kutcher - and added to the list will be current IT guy and girl Justin
Timberlake and Mila Kunis rolling beneath the sheets in a typical love
story between the emotionally unavailable and the emotionally damaged.
Mila Kunis stars as Jamie, a headhunter in New York who persuades her target Dylan played by Justin Timberlake to ditch his young, upstart blogging team to join GQ (how's that for a little bit of subtle advertising) in revamping its website and to infuse new content ideas. A night out prior to the offer seals the LA based Dylan to relocate and take up the offer, with plenty of activities thrown in that if it's not Jamie being his only friend in a new, big city, they would serve as activities that would fit in for an awesome date night out. Before long they become firm friends, and made a pact to keep things physical since they each have their wants, and with the other party game to get down and dirty, so begins their game of tennis (though personally I prefer analogy with, and the term "bedminton" - it involves cocks after all). After all, why complicate what would be a beautiful friendship, if sex can be treated just as sex without the emotions thrown in to mess things up?
You know the clichéd drill by now, with things moving along fine and dandy, the hint of emotions coming into play to really turn things upside down, the narrative montage to show how frequent they mate like jackrabbits, before some large, needy episode or statements uttered that will probably reveal the true state of affairs, and the list goes on. Deny all you want, but one cannot help but to agree that the fairer sex will have things rough if pacts of this nature turn sour, and expectedly in a movie they always do, otherwise everyone will be happy without adversary, frustration and challenges to overcome and provide that change in strength of character.
And it is this power of the cliché that absolutely calls the shots in films like these. You know what will happen, but want to see them happen anyway even though you're multiple steps ahead of every character. And it is precisely these expectations that anyone would want to see covered, and try as the filmmakers want it is the clichés that they find hard to break away from, even if characters here proclaim very early on that romance in their world shouldn't be like an unbelievable Hollywood film, but in what would be art imitating art, look who's talking to begin with. And what's with the fixation about consistently taking the shine off the captain of US Airways Flight 1549 in its emergency landing onto the Hudson River?
Justin Timberlake is fast becoming the busy bona fide movie star since The Social Network, and continues his run with this film and In Time which will hit the screens here soon. He has that boyish charm that the camera just loves, and being a real life singer meant covering a number of songs here, from Stereophonics to Kris Kross made it look all too easy. Mila Kunis plays her role as the emotionally damaged girl with aplomb, and shares an effective chemistry with Timberlake that makes this film a delight to sit through, even if as mentioned the story's cliché and we know just about how these two nice looking people will likely get together.
The supporting characters while one dimensional almost always threaten to steal the show, from Patricia Clarkson as Jamie's sex crazed mom extending the lifespan of a running joke involving the nationality of Jamie's unseen dad, Woody Harrelson as the gay colleague of Dylan who always have innuendos offhand to share, Jenna Elfman who plays Dylan's sister and Richard Jenkins starring as Dylan's dad who's suffering from advancing Alzheimer's disease, which is especially poignant as it deals with the subplot of how a family copes with a loved one who's behaviour develops erratically, and holding the key to a pivotal personal experience to share and turn things around.
With Andy Samberg and Emma Stone making cameos (the latter being extremely crazy as a fanatical John Meyer fan), Friends With Benefits has its main leads to thank for in milking quite the cliché story for the masses, who are likely to make a beeline just to see those two in some down and dirty action, not that you get to see a lot to begin with anyway. Recommended, and stay tuned until after the end credits roll for more commentary when the two are sitting at a couch watching the outtakes of a DVD movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jamie is an executive recruiter who recruits Dylan, a young, up and
coming art director for a small internet company in Los Angeles, to
come to NYC and work for the much more high powered GQ Magazine. Before
this happens, there's a prologue showing their back story: both are
going through another unsuccessful relationship with a member of the
opposite sex. When Jamie and Dylan meet each other for the first time,
they're both jaded, as they've been burned one too many times, in their
quest for 'true romance'.
While getting to know each other, they watch a parody of a romcom (romantic comedy) on TV, both bemoaning the pitfalls of traditional courtships and wondering perhaps how they can circumvent all the complications associated with traditional romance. They forge an unlikely friendship where they can avoid any kind of commitment in the relationship and simply enjoy sex for its own sake. Hence, the 'benefits' is the satisfaction of having the sexual relationship without the commitment.
Soon, the film's scenarists strategy of setting us up for an old fashioned morality tale, becomes clear. The 'friends with benefits' program--that is, sex without commitment, is only part and parcel of a larger overall problem with the personalities of our protagonists. Jamie and Dylan are unfortunately narcissistic, coarse and immature.
The film's scenarists would like us to laugh at Jamie and Dylan, as they expose their foibles in the first thirty minutes or so. Jamie, the perennial go-getter, obnoxiously puts down Dylan, who extols the virtues of wide-open, west coast living as opposed to what he regards as the cramped living style of New Yorkers (the put-down becomes clear when Jamie sarcastically cracks, "What are you, a Gazelle?).
If Jamie's coarseness is off-putting, it pales in comparison to Dylan's complete cluelessness. Dylan is so narcissistic that he simply can't understand why he's so wrong about Captain Sully. People rightly perceive that he's stubborn and ignorant when he claims 'planes fly themselves'. In reality, Captain Sully's plane was almost completely disabled due to the bird strike and could not possibly fly itself. So he's wrong on that count and 'tunes out' all those who are justifiably angry with him.
Dylan's myopic 'Sully stance' is indicative of what's wrong with the first third of the film. By trying to 'humanize' the characters, exposing them as deeply flawed human beings, the film's scenarists have gone too far and made them out to be decidedly unlikeable. Somehow the Sully joke needed to be lighter and not cast Dylan in such a negative light. That way, we would care more about him at the end, when he finally does redeem himself. The same goes for Jamie whose constant use of expletives coupled with her overreaching competitiveness, also casts her in a negative light, during the expository sequences.
The failed comedy of exposing the two 'losers' who adopt the self-defeating 'friends with benefits' program becomes a much more traditional romance in Act II and III, not unlike the 'film within a film' parody of the romcom the two lovers watch and disparage early on. It doesn't take long for Jamie to have true feelings for Dylan, after he invites her to California to meet his family and they have an intimate tryst. But Dylan remains locked in his fear of commitment and after Jamie overhears him putting her down while talking with his sister, the third act crisis is precipitated.
It takes a little while longer before Dylan redeems himself by realizing how selfish he's been, but with the aid of two key allies, he finally sees the light. The allies who counsel Dylan are of course, Tommy, his gay co-worker, delightfully played by Woody Harrelson and Dylan's Alzheimer's afflicted father, Mr. Harper (solidly and convincingly played by Richard Jenkins).
Couldn't you guess, but despite Mr. Harper's fluctuating memory loss, he manages to impart to his son, a tale of long lost love which turns out to be the big lesson here: don't let your best shot at love slip away.
It's all very predictable and sentimental but Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis do seem to exude some chemistry, working together. I only wish their characters were a little less alienating and a little more gregarious in the first thirty to forty minutes.
In the end, 'Benefits' can only live up to its billing for its romance and not its comedy. Simply put, there's nothing funny about obnoxious, clueless people. But once these protagonists are transformed, they do become a bit more likable. Still, is this rather predictable 'love-fest', a film you'll remember for a long time? I doubt it quite a bit.
As an old fashioned morality tale, where a misguided couple realizes the error of their ways and finds 'true love' in the process, 'Benefits' fits in well with the pantheon of mediocre romcoms, populating our movie theaters today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you had read my comments you know my hatred for most romantic
comedies, as they are the same formula over and over again with
different names and actors. 2011 had a movie staring hot on the rise
Natalie Portman called No Strings Attached. An intelligent romantic
comedy about the realism on relationships, how sometimes there is no
way to get around having feelings for someone in our busy world. We
want that connection with someone and sometimes let it go before we
realize that we may have lost someone special. So almost in taking her
role too seriously, Mila Kunis who starred with Natalie Portman in
Black Swan playing a girl who is almost a little jealous of the lead's
talent, takes on the same like role. Playing the girl a small bit
different by being someone who does believe in love but thinks that
it's something wrong with her on why she can't find the right guy for
her. Can Justin Timberlake prove her wrong? What could have been a very
creative formula in making fun of how romantic comedies have taken over
most women's perceptions of what love should be instead of what's
reality, it turns back into the same tired old formula it's bashing in
the first place.
Jamie has the task of trying to recruit Dylan to interview for a job with GQ magazine, he comes to New York and after interviewing for the position learns from Jamie that he has been given an offer to work for GQ. Not knowing anyone else in the city he and Jamie quickly develop a friendship. One night, while hanging out at Jamie's apartment watching a romantic comedy, they get on the topic of sex and relationships. They come to the conclusion that sex should not come with so many emotional attachments. Both feeling the need for a physical connection they agree to have sex without emotion or commitment involved. After several trysts together Jamie comes to the realization that this isn't really what she wants, and she would like to start dating again and informs Dylan that they need to stop. But after many failed attempts on both parts they are both in a supposed shock when they realize they really like each other.
You name it, the cliché is there: the gay best friend, the misunderstanding, the workaholics, the walking down the street to some cheesy sappy pop song looking into the sky wondering how a love could go so wrong, the talking to an old person making the protagonist realize how they were wrong and must do something so dramatic to win the person back and of course the big make up kiss in front of a big crowd of people who feel the need to applause despite the fact that they don't know what is going on. Despite a lot of flaws the thing I do give credit too is that Mila and Justin do have some great chemistry bouncing back and forth off each other. Although they are such beautiful people and it's hard to believe that they are that hard up for some loving. Would I say this is a terrible romantic comedy? Not necessarily, I didn't feel my time was totally wasted, but I would recommend No Strings Attached over this as that was more realistic and had a better feel to it. But I think this was over all a good way to waste some time if you're looking for light hearted fun as the two leading actors make it worth your while. It's just a tired old formula that I wish could have a different ending for once. But that isn't coming any time soon as Hollywood needs to stick with the safe formula of having everyone live happily ever after and nothing more after that.
Watching movies about shallow premises coupled by lame dialogue and
Narcissistic acting are enough to sour me early on. Why did I invest my
time watching this pointless bilge. Apparently, the supposed "Most
beautiful woman in the world', Mila Kunis is what kept me somewhat
intrigued. close ups of her stunning face and dark beauty is what keeps
me watching. Outside of the aesthetic quality of her appearance I had
to constantly get up out of my couch to do something more useful like
wash dishes or clip my fingernails.
This movie is lame and is just a feeble excuse to showcase the two leads and the materialistic world they live in. I don't know much about Justin Timberlake, because I never paid much attention to him outside of Hollywood tabloids forcing this drip into our living room. I also hate when they have to incorporate the obligatory Rap music into movies with White actors, as if they genuinely like this putrid form of noise.
It's annoying and makes young people look shallow, self-serving and apathetic.
If you want to look at Mila and her entrancing beauty, click on some thumbnails online. otherwise, save yourself 95 minutes.
Aight, the picture itself is not too bad. It's clichéd, shallow, crude,
predictable. It's replete with impossibly talented non-entities
cracking wise left and right. Both women and men, gay and straight, are
portrayed as annoying jerks, without any old-school values or
integrity. If the human race ever devolves to the specimens as depicted
in this movie, I'm getting a one-way ticket off the planet.
All that, however, can be glossed over.
What REALLY got to me, and which got me to write this feedback is the supremely irritating muzak. I mean, literally EVERY SINGLE scene concludes with a score, and each and every score is basically some schmuck banging on a guitar and intoning nondescript, forgettable words. It's the kind of thing that passes for "profound" in a hippie commune with everyone stoned and half-comatose. I don't know what genre it officially is... - "indie," is it? I know the said "music" is meant to give pause for thought, reflection, to make us pensive... - but it's just imbecilic and bland. It totally lacks any character. Jeez Alou, you could literally replace all the so-called lyrics with "nya nya nya" in the style of someone who takes a break from drooling into a cup, and the effect would be identical.
Anyway, so the O.S.T. entirely ruined for me what would otherwise have been a 5/10 feature.
This movie was absolutely horrendous. There was not a single positive
aspect to this movie. First of all, it's not funny. Second of all, the
acting is lousy. I understand that this is a romantic comedy and it's
supposed to be a bit light and not so deep...but this was really bad. I
mean, there really wasn't a single truthful moment in this movie from
an acting perspective. I've seen children have more substance that
Justin Timberlake and his female counterpart. Third of all, this movie
was really awkward- like neither of these individuals have had sex in
their life..... Fourth, the plot/story is literally non-existent--> we
are literally forced to watch the first hour of the movie in this sort
of trance-like mirage of weird images of Justin trying to be funny in
bed with this chick....but all the audience could do is cringe in utter
embarrassment at this fiasco.
Fifth, they kept trying to get Justin Timberlake naked--> but is he supposed to have a great body or something? I mean he looks like a highschool kid...what woman is salivating for the body of a highschooler? They should have been doing everything possible to keep his clothes on and not off. The list of flaws could go on for infinite....this movie blows. I give it an F.
The only thing that keeps this movie from being a 1 is Woody Harrelson who's awesome as usual. I.e. he's the only positive to the entire movie.
OK, what you see from the beginning to end is a display of Sony
A deliberate and a ridiculous scene is placed just so that the characters could be seen playing the Sony playstation.
The couple watch a show on a.......Sony TV.
If they use a laptop it would be a VAIO .
And of course, the background music is composed of artists that come from the Sony records label.
The film ? Well the guys were so focused as to how the place the Sony products that they turned the movie into a total crap.
It is NOT a romantic comedy. It does not have any class. The characters debit dialogs straight from the gutter.
I used to have a high esteem of the Sony Group. This movie produced in me the opposite effect. I would buy any label except this.
I was staying in on Saturday night and wanted to watch something light
hearted and humorous. Friends with benefits seemed the perfect fit.
Mila Kunis is usually talented and Justin Timberlake has done some good
stuff. Add to it the glamour of NY and sharp comedy, things looked
I lasted about 30 minutes. I don't know how they managed turn talent and sharp humour into something so annoying. Mila Kunis came across as a fake, arrogant brat and Justin Timberlake had about as much charm as a broom stick. I ended up just being irritated by a lot of things in the film. Such as when Mila Kunis asks Justing Timeberlake if he thinks she's pretty. This is Mila Kunis - voted the sexiest woman in the world for god sake. They both have glamorous jobs, look perfect and have perfect blend of humour and wit...just too damn perfect with absolutely no touch of reality. Not even a hint of chemistry between the two.
It's such a shame because Mila Kunis was excellent in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and her voice over work in Family Guy is brilliant. So I can only blame the director in this movie for turning her into such an annoying character. As for Justin Timberlake...bland, just bland.
Irritating film. Luckily, Predator was on and saved the evening. At least Arnie can do proper humour.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is difficult to believe that talented "Easy A" writer & director Will Gluck had anything to do with this shallow as well as satiric romantic comedy about a loquacious couple who tumble in the sack but shun wearing their feelings on the their respective sleeves. You'd think that these youngsters were the first who preferred sex without sentiment. Each of these commitment-leery lovers has been through the wringer in a previous relationship that left them with nothing but bad vibes and the desire to never succumb so such sadness again. Sexy Mila Kunis plays a single but sexually active corporate headhunter named Jamie who recruits Los Angeles-based website editor Dylan (Justin Timberlake of "The Social Network") to be the new art director opening at GQ magazine. Predictably, not only does Dylan take this dream job, but he also bundles up with Jamie in bed in an R-rated movie that lacks both steam and momentum. You will find about as much meaningful nudity here as you might find in an issue of Maxim magazine. The entire plot revolves around their relationship after coitus and the ups and downs that they endure before Gluck and scenarists Keith Merryman and David A. Newman bring the leads full circle in Grand Central Station in the Big Apple. Just to add some sparkle to the shenanigans we are treated to Patricia Clarkson cast as the liberated mom of our heroine who raves about the 1970s and Woody Harrelson as Tommy an openly gay sports writer. "Saturday Night Live" fans will recognize Andy Samberg breaking up with Mila in an opening gambit while Emma Stone ditches Timberlake. Probably the slickest thing that Gluck pulls off is his surprising cross-cutting between the guys and the gals in this scene. Initially, we assume that Mila and Jamie are breaking up until we see that it is two couples. Richard Jenkins injects some heavy-handed gravitas as Jamie's Alzheimer's addled father who steals every scene in which he appears. Gluck tries his best (or worst) to skewer the conventions of romantic comedies, but he only winds up skewering himself. Mind you, Mila has some nice-looking skin and Justin has a washboard belly to die-for if you're into looking physically fit. Unfortunately, good looks, great chemistry, and rapid-fire dialogue delivery cannot overcome the one cliché after another. Altogether, if you have not seen "When Harry Met Sally," watch "When Harry Met Sally after you see "Friends with Benefits."
My motivation for see this was that I thought 'No Strings Attached' was
hilarious and I like Milla Kunis. The previews for this film looked
like it would be funny, and though I don't really care for Justin as an
actor, I like him on 'SNL,' so, I thought he would at least be funny.
This seemed to me like it was a rushed project. I got the feeling the
whole time that this was written by some decent writers in the 2 nights
and filmed in 2 weeks. Everything felt rushed, predictable and cliché.
Maybe a better actor could have pulled Justin's lines off better,
giving them some punch...but instead, whenever he and Milla and long
diatribe's of banter, I felt like I was watching an acting scene in a
class, rather than a movie. It also felt like maybe they had as much
time to rehearse the scenes as a cold reading. The only good thing
about the movie was Woody Harrelson. He was great. Milla's mom was
good..., some of the lines were good, but too rushed through to really
come across as good or leave any weight, and Milla and Justin had good
chemistry. The only thing believable about this film was that they
would make good friends. A good couple, is questionable, but they at
least seemed to be having fun together. The movie was also extremely
formula with no twists or surprises. I didn't see the flash mob coming,
at the end, but, really, who cares. I would not call that a good or
emotional scene. It seemed more like this went on in a producer
meeting. "Flash mobs are big right now. We should throw one in there at
least a couple times. The audience loves it when the actors do a group
singing number in a film, and flash mobs are the next big thing!"
EHHHHHH!!!!! Wrong. There was one, of sorts, in 'Enchanted,' but it
worked only because it was a musical and was more of a Broadway number
than a flash mob. I didn't care about anyone in this film. And how can
you when it's paint-by-the-numbers formula without any real depth
whatsoever? Everything in this film was a gimmick to make you "feel"
something, but it was so all so transparent and spoon fed that it
didn't carry any weight.
Justin should stick to singing. He's not a good actor. Being a good sketch actor on 'SNL' does not mean you can read lines. The only reason he was halfway OK, but I wouldn't go as far as good, in "The Social Network' was because his part was small and he wasn't really acting, he just seemed to be reading lines and being himself. Not to mention, he's got a nice body but kind of Cro-Magnon looking. Without singing and dancing I don't really get his appeal...unless, of course, when he's Photoshopped. And him as an action star is even more ridiculous. What happened to the days of guys like Keanau Reeves? I mean, Jeremy Renner, Justin Timberlake, Adrian Brody? Seriously? None of these guys look like they could even take a serious punch, nor do they look lithe and stealth enough to avoid one. Though, I'm getting off track of the romantic comedy massacre, of this film.
It was on every level bad, other than Woody Harrleson, and completely unbelievable, on every level. The fact that Justin, or a 26-yr-old, is some high-paid sought after art director is ridiculous. They might as well have said he was a wealthy astronaut, which would have been just as believable. Topher Grace could pull off the young, over-achieving marketing director in that Dennis Quaid film, because he's a good actor...and they played up the fact that it was unusual for someone so young to be in that position.
Watch 'No Strings Attached,' rather than wasting any time on this film. Two great actors, great script, great chemistry, feel good. This is a film Milla should have turned down 'cause it did nothing for her career, and only cemented for me to avoid Justin in starring roles. He's just not good. The only film I liked him in was 'Southland Tales,' but he didn't say that much, does a musical number, and it was more of a cameo that added a funny element to the film. This was probably one of the worst romantic comedies I've seen in a long time. Two thumbs down.
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