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Natalie Portman And Ashton Kutcher Get Almost Naked In "No Strings Attached"

Piya Sinha-Roy |
January 21, 2011 | 12:14 p.m. PST

Senior Entertainment Editor

Adam (Ashton Kutcher) and Emma (Natalie Portman) explore being friends with benefits in "No Strings Attached" (Paramount Pictures)
Adam (Ashton Kutcher) and Emma (Natalie Portman) explore being friends with benefits in "No Strings Attached" (Paramount Pictures)
"No Strings Attached"

(USA, 2011, 110 mins)

It seems that Paramount Pictures is going all out to promote this unconventional rom-com abut friends with benefits, seeing as you can't watch or listen to any TV, radio or even drive by a billboard without being hit in the face with a promo for this film. And after all, who doesn’t want to go to the movies to watch Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman having “No Strings Attached” sex?

The tale of two friends who try to maintain relationship based purely on sex and try not to fall in love, is a quirky take on the modern day fairytale. Friends with benefits is not an uncommon theme for a movie, and in fact, “Friends With Benefits,” a new film starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis that will come out in July this year, has pretty much the same plotline, with some great supporting cast members (Rashida Jones, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Andy Samberg) who are bound to bring the comedy.

Director Ivan Reitman, known for films like “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” and “Evolution,” brings his trademark off-beat humor to this film, and perhaps it is the one-liners that holds the film together. Portman, who plays Emma, a doctor working all hours, and Kutcher, who plays production assistant Adam, find themselves thrown together at random moments throughout their adolescence, and finally decide to embark on their sex-based non-relationship when they find themselves both single and living in Los Angeles. On the upside, it appears that Portman and Kutcher have great chemistry, but if you’re expecting gratuitous sexcapades, you’ll be disappointed – other than some early shots of Kutcher’s derriere, most of the action is under covers or behind closed doors.  

While Kutcher and Portman take the most screen time, it’s the supporting cast who deliver the hilarious comic zingers. Lake Bell as the over-talkative production assistant has a great moment attempting to seduce, Mindy Kaling toys with Kutcher’s mind and Jake Johnson and Ludacris steal the scene from Kutcher when they try to talk sense into him.

The plot is riddled with mind games and dysfunction, but it appears to speak to today’s younger generation of over-worked and over-tempted hot young things. In this film, it is the girl who struggles to commit, and there’s a constant case of will-they-won’t-they throughout the film but it's Hollywood and it's a rom-com, so the audience aren't left guessing too long to see the outcome. It’s also notable to mention to the marijuana advocacy that appears to be a constant factor throughout the film. While smoking pot had absolutely no impact on the plot whatsoever, it somehow appeared to be part of key scenes - perhaps an indirect way of supporting California’s Prop 19?

Kutcher is Hollywood adorable as always, but it remains to be seen if he can tackle any other roles, as he seems to get away with playing himself in each movie. It’s hard to see Portman taking on comedy, and not just after such a melodramatic performance in “Black Swan.” Her attempt at being funny is more awkward than hilarious (almost as awkward as her Golden Globes acceptance speech), but she grows on the audience, especially during a particularly inebriated scene where Portman delivers crazy quite adeptly.

“No Strings Attached” is cheesy at its best, but has a few real moments, mainly on relationships, embedded in the other-wise standard rom-com plot. In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, the film is definitely worth a watch if you fancy escaping into a ludicrous (or Ludacris) story for a while, but if you’re allergic to cheese, you’ve been warned.

Reach Senior Entertainment Editor Piya Sinha-Roy here, and follow her on Twitter @PiyaSRoy.



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