If there’s anything that’s going to draw in non-rom-com lovers to go and see the latest, er, rom-com, it’s getting Natalie ‘Best Actress’ Portman in for one of the starring roles. Fresh from her stint as a manic ballerina in the deservedly hyped Black Swan, _Portman has opted for something more than a little different, going all nympho alongside chick-flick King, Ashton Kutcher in _No Strings Attached.
As the title suggests, the film is about ‘sex friends’ who make a pact to stay emotionally uninvolved whilst using each other whenever either of them wants to get some. Emma (Portman) and Adam (Kutcher), once childhood friends, cross paths post-college. There’s an obvious attraction but Emma - for reasons unexplained - is a massive commitment-phobe and Adam has a girlfriend anyway. But things soon change when Adam’s loving lady ditches him and runs off with his self-obsessed dad (a scene-stealing Kevin Kline).
So the two of them hook up and vow to continue seeing each other until one of them starts feeling something a bit more ‘real’. Emma and Adam revel in their new ‘friends with benefits’ relationship and all seems to be going smoothly. That is, however, until the inevitable happens and one of them starts to get actual feelings for the other. Shock, horror.
No Strings Attached does exactly what it says on the tin. The plot goes nowhere unexpected and is frustratingly thin, making the film drag. What little there is content wise also tends to feel fairly strained as there is little chemistry - or comedy -between the two actors.
The main problem with No Strings Attached however, lies with the fact that Emma is hugely unlikable, making it difficult for us to really care about what happens to the pair’s relationship from the off. Portman is certainly versatile enough for the role but is given little to do, with the majority of screen time given to Kutcher who ultimately fares better in this familiar part.
Sadly, there’s nothing new here and there are just too few laughs to note. We can only hope that Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake make for better viewing in the hopefully-not-regurgitated film Friends With Benefits, out later this year. Fingers crossed.
Release date: 2011-02-25