I know there are going to be a hundred reviews out there comparing this film to No Strings Attached, which came out February staring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher; could be compared to Love and Other Drugs (Staring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gylenhaal) even. But I’m just going to cut out all that crap, to be frank, and just review this brilliant cliché film. It’s a cliché film with little differences. I don’t want to give too much away as every little thing counts in this film. Also, I’m very glad to say it’s not a film that is rubbish because all the good stuff is in the trailer; not at all!
At first I thought this jump into sexual postmodernist rom-coms wouldn’t work and would be a real flop but I now see the film industry did not think so, neither do I now. Yes it remains to have the happy-ever-after ending and typical line: “You’re just like the other guys, I thought you were different!” but it doesn’t feel like a real rom-com if it doesn’t leave you smiling at the end for all the glorious clichés we have all learnt to love. Although, in a funny scene early on in the film Kunis and Timberlake watch this cheesy romantic film, staring Jason Segal no less. Kunis’s character shows her feelings about love and romance, which actually contrasts her sometimes-aggressive behaviour; whereas Timberlake’s character just rips it to shreds with all the musical cues, when actually he is a big softy at heart. Friends with Benefits is a widely funny and is delivered by energetic performances by the central duo; who, I must add, work fantastically together on screen as comic characters.
With help from the extraordinary Easy A, that was easily under-appreciated, director and co-writer, Will Gluck further demonstrates that he has a serious knack for delivery in humour. He doesn’t do the typical comic acts which makes this film a little different, and better, from the others. He has little hints here and there like having Kunis grab an airport-greeting sign marked "O. Penderghast", a reference to Emma Stone's "Easy A" character. Who in return does the humiliating in this film when starting off by dumping Timberlake’s character Dylan, in his city of Los Angeles. Whereas in New York Kunis is getting dumped by her boyfriend, played by Andy Samberg. Now this is where the film begins and the characters develop.
Starting off with what you think would be a non-linear style of film confuses you a little, well it did me, but then it begins to take shape. Once dumped, both ruthlessly plan to just have sex with anyone with no complications, “like George Clooney” according to both Timberlake and Kunis. Now they begin to collide. Jamie (Kunis) is a headhunter and found Dylan (Timberlake) for the new art director for the GQ website. As he is moving to New York with nobody familiar him and Jamie being to make a friendship, and of course leads to the commitment-less sex. Along the journey there are many funny aphorisms and connections to other films. Such as Ugly Truths, which Jamie screams about on how Katherine Heigl lies about love; and also how Jamie’s rather odd mother, shall we say, promises her a “Nora Ephron movie’ weekend.
Timberlake and Kunis are focused on, of course, but there is also other characters to keep the film rolling like the masculine yet flamboyant gay Woody Harellson and the typical man just there for sex, Bryan Greenberg who is one of Jamie’s dates who she got from a little game with Dylan. Not only does the film have a feel-good sense, it also had once hard-hitting scene where Dylan’s father, Richard Jenkins, suffers from Alzheimer’s and wonders where his ex-wife of 10 years is. Dylan and his sister, Jenna Elfman (Accidently on Purpose), have this close-net relationship that shows throughout the film and shows to affect the relationship of Dylan and Jamie; but not necessarily for the worse. Elfman plays her part brilliantly as well as her on-screen son Sam, Noland Gould; who adds to the cute hilarity for sure.
Both Kunis and Timberlake have amusing in-bedroom scenes, taking away the awkwardness and oddly the sexier feel of the movie. In fact the movie is actually sexier when they are not nude, although I wouldn’t say no to the topless muscular pop star Timberlake and I’m sure the guys wouldn’t reject the tanned and toned Kunis. Apart from this in general they are a good on-scene couple and gladly don’t collide head first but just brush each other side by side in terms of comedy and personality.
For once this is a film which actually has you more interested in the characters and story than lacking interest where you begin to focus on the acting on how is it better than other similar movies? They don’t drag it out too much, keep the basic details and get to the point; now that’s all what we want to hear!
In my opinion, Friends with Benefits holds the torch for this 2011 mini-genre of rom-com. With the entertaining help of Gluck and writers Keith Merryman and David A. Newman this film has made one of my top romantic comedies of all time I think. A funny yet nice feel-good comical and cliche rom-com. 8/10