I did not like this movie and I should have. Why, you may ask? Well, I love dystopian films. I like writer/director Andrew Niccol‘s previous projects (Gattaca anyone?). I like the interesting concept. I like Justin Timberlake (he is a natural). I like Amanda Seyfried (has talent). I like Cillian Murphy, a lot (super talented). Yet, with all that going for it– I still did not like it.
Something was missing. Plot? Solid mythology? Character development? Plausible arc? I don’t know…something. Throughout I kept thinking–which was probably the big mistake–(maybe I should have NOT been thinking)–why is this happening? Why aren’t they doing that? Once I turned to my daughter (Vieve) and said “That doesn’t make sense…” And she appropriately replied, “Sense has nothing to do with it…leave logic out of this!” She was correct. But, even removing logic and sense, I still did not like it.
Oh well! They can’t all be winners. 🙂
Although romantic comedies have a consistent formula, you never know what you will get–will it be painfully bad? Sadly mediocre? Entertainingly cute? Okay good? Or the rare gem? I think I found a ruby here. One of the great things about Friends With Benefits is that it makes fun of itself while talking about the influence of romantic comedies on our culture. It does not forget its place–yet Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake have enough talent and chemistry to make this one work.
I may have already said this–but I like reality. I hate when they fall in love in two days–that does NOT happen–EVER! You can’t know someone completely in two days. So, all my favorite Rom Coms are realistic–as realistic as possible for a movie. When Harry met Sally—Two Weeks Notice—Going the Distance–those are few of my all time favorites. What they also have in common is a wonderful supporting cast. You have to believe the universe. As you may have guessed Friends with Benefits has all that going on (unlike the disappointing No Strings Attached from earlier this year).
I loved the extended family subplots. The parents were awesome–Richard Jenkins and Patricia Clarkson are some of the best character actors out there! Then add Woody Harrelson, as the work buddy, for good measure and you can’t go wrong.
Yet this story belongs to the stars–Kunis and Timberlake are both naturals and they make this look easy. (Both of these actors are going to have long careers.) Funny, sweet and even a bit raunchy–it is their delivery that makes it. It was also refreshing to see sex talked about truthfully–and shown in some unromantic ways.
Bottom line, you will have fun watching these two people find their happily ever after–cuz you know they’re going to find it–c’mon it’s a romantic comedy! ** insert sappy pop song–“Hey Soul Sister! Ain’t that Mr. Mister on the radio…”