Make it a date

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH friendswith­ben­e­fitsmovie. com. au Now show­ing Vil­lage Cine­mas

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.

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