"No Strings Attached" Movie Review

1/22/2011 Posted by Admin

"No Strings Attached"

Movie Review

Directed by Ivan Reitman, Written by Elizabeth Meriwether and Michael Samonek, 110 minutes, Rated R

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

Like most relationships, "No Strings Attached" isn't perfect. The script is clumsy; its leads have little chemistry; and the whole production feels rushed -- probably to beat the flood of "Friends-with-benefits" comedies due out this year. So, almost as a preemptive measure, director Ivan Reitman populated his film with a likable and funny supporting cast, which raises "No Strings Attached" to tolerable levels.

After 15 years as acquaintances, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) give into their long-gestating attraction but lay down some ground rules for the "relationship." You see, Emma isn't the relationship type, so to keep things from getting complicated, they naturally decide to complicate things--Emma and Paul will be together, but not together. From here, Paul and Emma navigate the messy world of being friends with benefits.

Things get off to a painfully slow start. Kutcher and Portman appear genuinely nervous on screen -- and not in a good way. Their performances in the first act are wooden, and since they're having such a hard time relaxing, it makes it difficult to connect with the plot. They simply don’t have any chemistry together, which makes their romance unconvincing.

While Emma and Paul struggle to connect, the peripheral characters get along well and, even with such a boring premise, they make the film worth watching. Mindy Kaling steals the show as Emma's friend, Shira, and her hilarious delivery makes up for Kutcher's cold stares. Likewise, the great Kevin Kline pops up as Paul's pot-smoking, womanizing father.

Reitman was smart to give the cast room to breathe. Paul and Emma's romance can't really handle anything more than the superficial will-they-or-won't-they storyline, so when Kaling or Ludacris get the chance to guide a scene, things work like a charm. They lock you into the story even if it's not an entirely convincing one.

The supporting cast does their job, but it isn’t enough to save Emma and Adam. Their relationship is DOA from the start, so as the credits roll, you can breathe a sigh of relief to no longer be entangled in it.

Paul and Emma's romance, as they keep stating, never really started, so they don't really have much to do. At two hours, Reitman stretches their tired situation far too thin. The hilarious supporting players keep things moving when the director stumbles, but "No Strings Attached" lacks the emotional core that would make it memorable.

Grade: C+

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