January 21, 2011
Review - " No Strings Attached " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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and get busy whenever the mood strikes? The phrase "fuck buddies" has been replaced with the less-catchy "Sex Friends",
to my everlasting annoyance. "Fuck Buddies" was a strong and memorable part of Vanilla Sky and (I think) strikes the right
feel and tone for a movie of this nature. The film already has an "R" rating, why do they feel the need to soften it?
At first, Adam enjoys this arrangement (because he's not blind), but eventually, he falls for her and a crisis ensues with
awkward, late-night texts and bad advice from his male buds.
It will shock precisely no one in the audience to learn that Emma's aversion to love is unsustainable, though the film's
repeated suggestion that modern, independent women need men to take care of them is a little old-fashioned, to put it
gently. No Strings Attached offers no clear explanation about why she is so resistant to relationships, but the more
pressing problem comes from Emma and Adam's arrangement itself: He would like to be her boyfriend. She, however, would
like him to just come over, get the job done and leave so she can get on with her 36-hours-a-day medical school residency.
The movie never makes the case for Emma’s point of view. You don’t see for an instant why a young woman in a high-
pressure residency might be wise to approach a relationship warily. In spite of his selfish crush, Given that Adam is gorgeous,
funny, kind, talented, and, to cap it off, rich - You don’t see any impediment whatsoever to happily-ever-afterdom. It’s no
wonder a guy behind me muttered, “What’s her problem?”
Unless you're seven years old, you're aware that a movie like this involves zero surprises. They hook up, they complicate the
situation, they split apart, they pine for one another, they kiss at the end because of love-love-love-and-more-love-plus-a-
Colbie-Caillat-song-about-love. Happily, the casting people decided to populate the film with a lead couple who have
chemistry and then surrounded them with young, energetic supporting actors. And the otherwise old-fashioned story is
peppered with just enough funny (and fairly raunchy) stuff to keep you laughing and forgetting that you already know what's
coming next every second of the way.
The movie benefits from a sparkling, sexy and emotionally available performance by Natalie Portman, some clever turns in
situations and witty banter that isn't shy about crossing into raunchy.
As Emma, Portman carries this with her warmth and her wicked way with an incredibly crude come-on. Ashton Kutcher, as
Adam, is better at bringing the funny than in carrying the emotional weight. You know it's love when the guy makes you a
menstruation mix tape.
In many ways, No Strings plays like a more tame version of the recent Love & Other Drugs, with a touch less nudity and none
of that depressing early-onset Parkinson's. Of course, the biggest difference in that one was that both Anne Hathaway and
Jake Gyllenhaal were shallow, sex-obsessed characters. Here it's pretty clear that Kutcher is in the "female" role, as the one
who yearns for post-coital spooning, when all Portman wants is to jump in the sack.
“I’m warning you: Come one step closer, and I’m never letting you go,”
Daring to love someone in spite of the risks - is pretty much eternal. While the only nudity comes from Mr. Kutcher's bare
behind, the sex scenes are still hot and heavy enough to merit the R rating. And while casual sex may seem to be presented
in a casual and respectable manner, the underlying message is that we need more than that in our lives to be truly happy,
which actually makes this a sweet and almost old-fashioned movie by its end.
No Strings Attached
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes,
Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell, Ludacris, Mindy Kaling
A middle-of-the-road, generic Rom-Com with a twist - the standard
gender roles are reversed (the female is the brusque professional, the
male the clingy sex object). In the high-concept romantic comedy No
Strings Attached, the woman who wants lots of sex with zero emotional
commitment isn't portrayed as a slut, which is a nice change. She
does, however, come off as a head case. Emma (Natalie Portman), a
brainy medical resident, has a highly satisfying quickie with an old
summer-camp acquaintance, Adam (Ashton Kutcher), and, flush with
pleasure, proposes they “use each other” physically.
That leaves Ashton Kutcher to play the sensitive sex object, a role that
fits much more snugly within his own limitations as an actor. Kutcher
recently starred in the little-seen indie Spread, which was his
Shampoo, cementing his status as his generation's wispier answer to
Warren Beatty - beautiful and vain, irresistible to both sexes, kind of
a bimbo. Here he preens to mostly winning effect as Adam, a lowly
Hollywood production assistant for a High School Musical-type show
who wants more from a relationship than Emma, but will happily settle
for casual sex in the meantime. At her behest, the two agree to "friends
with benefits" status, always only a quick text message away from their
next acrobatic tryst.
Emma is just too busy and neurotic to be in a real relationship. She
suggests that since she's got a body like Natalie Portman and since
Adam has one like Ashton Kutcher, why don't they just be sex friends