Make it a date
ONCE upon a time – a year ago, actually – there were two rom-coms in production that were both asking the exact same question: can a man and a woman share a strictly physical relationship without any complications whatsoever?
Both movies were titled Friends With Benefits. Awkward.
Once the naming stand-off was settled, the flick that had to go find another title was the first to go into cinemas.
Remember No Strings Attached with Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman? You don’t? Awkward.
That movie died a slow death with audiences simply because no one could detect any discernible chemistry between its stars.
Chemistry certainly ain’t no problem for the casual couple out front of Friends With Benefits.
The moment Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake ( pictured) begin yammering and hammering away at one another, there’s a palpable clicking vibe that reassures you this movie is going to be quite OK.
In fact, for its first hour – until, you know, the beddin’ buddies begin to acknowledge their true feelings – Friends With Benefits is very good, bordering on great.
Beyond the perfect casting of its leads, the best thing is the whipsmart writing and direction of Will Gluck. If you caught his work on the excellent Easy A last year, you’ll know the guy has a knack for coming up with situations and dialogue that are clever, witty and totally in the moment. While Friends With Benefits is not the complete movie Easy A turned out to be, it is still a pleasure to witness such skilfully executed and genuinely funny comedy happening before you.
The plotting plays out along conventional lines, as one would expect.
Kunis plays Jamie, a corporate headhunter who has lined up a prime magazine job for Timberlake’s Dylan, an online art director.
Before Dylan even gets the position, the pair are getting along like a house on fire. After he moves from Los Angeles to New York to work, Jamie is the only person in the city he knows.
Friendship gives way to foolin’ around, but with clearly defined boundaries. Until all that sex brings a little intimacy – and then a whole lot more – into the mix.
If Friends With Benefits loses its way in its final act, it is only because it gets too mopey and heart-clasping for its own good.
Nevertheless, before all the guilt ( and the bad break-up, and the goofy get-back-together) kicks in, Friends With Benefits is exceptionally entertaining.
Definitely one for date-movie devotees.