Tuesday, February 8, 2011

NO STRINGS ATTACHED (2011)

Written by Elizabeth Meriwether

Directed by Ivan Reitman

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. February 4, 2011 2:30PM


The first romantic-comedy of the year has been released and "No Strings Attached" is it's name. The film attempts to shake up the familiar formula but it still ends up far less than a satisfying experience.

Natalie Portman, who makes her first venture in rom-com territory, plays Emma, a nice, good looking, busy young medical student who works eighty hours a week and doesn't have time to date. It doesn't help that Emma also has strong aversion to relationships, which is not fully explained, but she still has needs.

Ashton Kutcher is Adam, who is a nice, good looking, young straight male who happens to work as a production assistant on a "Glee" type television show and he is the son of a former sitcom star (Kevin Kline) which all adds up to the fact that he really shouldn't have any difficulty finding a girlfriend but he hasn't had much luck to date.

Adam and Emma had initially met each other sixteen years ago as teenagers at summer camp and would continue to bump into each other over the years. After Adam's father informs him that he is now dating his recent ex-girlfriend, he gets very drunk and calls every girl in his phone to find someone to sleep with him to help him forget his troubles.

Adam wakes up the next day, nude on a couch, unsure of where he is and what he did. It turns out that Emma had invited him over after he called her. They didn't sleep together that evening but in the sober, morning light, the two wind up having some quick but passionate sex.

Emma thoroughly enjoyed their tryst, which leads her to make Adam a proposition; to meet up to only have sex with no strings attached so there are no messy complications like jealousy, fighting or cuddling. Adam happily agrees since he has no interest in getting into another relationship. They both decide to end this affair if anyone develops any  feelings.

They both initially relish the arrangement, having plenty of fun, non-committed sexual romps but obviously, at some point somebody is going to want more out of this and it's not who you might think. Despite their agreement, they decide to try and go on a real date. Their romantic evening starts off well but since they both share a deep fear of love and commitment, it soon ends disastrously and puts a finish to their relationship. Will these two come to their senses or will they each have to find a new buddy to share just their bodies with?

I was surprised to see Mr. Reitman's name as the director of this mess because although he has never made a truly great film, he has made several entertaining comedies over her career such as "Meatballs", "Ghostbusters", and "Dave" but "No Strings" is not one of them, lacking in wit or fun. There were some moments scattered throughout that showed some promise as they were refreshingly offbeat for the standard rom-com but most of this film was bogged down with implausible actions and dialogue that made the film very frustrating and threw it completely out of whack. Considering Ms Portman was one of the producers and the script was written by a female, I am still amazed how strongly this film still comes across as a male fantasy and there's not much of a very visible or realistic female prospective to be found. I'm very sure this would had been a much different (and better) film if there had been a female director in charge.

Ms Portman is a terrific actress that we are used to seeing mostly in dramas and while she certainly didn't embarrass herself in this film but clearly comedy is not her strong suit although she does manage to do the best with what she has to work with. Mr. Kutcher is the perfect example of an actor who has managed to achieve a successful film career without much to offer. He's not a particularly great actor or comedian and he has seemed to have played the same exact character in every movie he has been in and yet he continues to get film offers. I guess he must also be the perfect example of how simply being attractive can get you very far in our society.

The film does have a strong supporting cast which include Mindy Kaling from TV's "The Office", Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Greta Gerwig, who made an impression in last year's "Greenberg"and Lake Bell, who is clearly the best thing in this film, as the overly chatty producer on Adam's television show but they all are pretty much wasted in underdeveloped roles.

Disastrous, lame and forgettable are words that I would attach to "No Strings Attached", which is just another film that will unfortunately help fill up the romantic-comedy cinematic junkyard.