warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Review: “Friends With Benefits” Raunchy Romantic Comedy Done Right

Candice Aman |
July 23, 2011 | 12:05 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

If “Friends With Benefits” is just a glimpse into the direction that romantic comedies are headed towards, then the future is looking sharp, witty and no longer just bearable, but actually enjoyable to watch. 

The film stars Mila Kunis, of "That 70’s Show" fame, as the self-righteous head hunter who seeks to recruit Justin Timberlake, a cocky art director, for a prestigious position in a new city. 

"Friends With Benefits" (Sony Pictures)
"Friends With Benefits" (Sony Pictures)

The two quickly develop a “friends with benefits” relationship, which promises a lot of screen time for bare skin, in addition to complications. 

As seen through countless films such as the classic date night movie, “When Harry met Sally”, to the recently released “No Strings Attached,” the premise of a man and a woman trying to be friends, albeit an undeniable sexual chemistry, is not only an age old but a worn-out concept.

Despite falling into the typical romantic comedy clichés that the film sets out to make fun of (cue the friendly banter, the dramatic declaration of love, the cheesy pop song to accompany it, among others), “Friends With Benefits,” surpasses years of similar but mediocre films and actually surprises audiences with likable casting and hilarious writing. 

This is a rarity, and therefore a treat, considering that romantic comedies always seem to be doomed for failure. 

But seriously, where did all the genuinely funny and witty dialogue go from every single movie in this genre in the last couple of years? 

William Gluck, director of the sleeper hit  “Easy A,” was absolutely the right filmmaker to inject a right type of youth and playfulness into an otherwise formulaic film. 

Moviegoers will undoubtedly compare this film to another with an eerily similar plotline released only a couple months prior. 

However, instead of Natalie Portman attempting to stretch her acting repertoire, in comes her “Black Swan” co-star who seems more of a natural fit taking on these types of comedic roles. 

And taking over Ashton Kutcher, who can now rightfully retire back to the small screen, is triple threat Timberlake, whose performance appears to be like one dragged out “Saturday Night Live” Sketch.

While his portrayal did garner some laughs, Timberlake who has conquered the music industry, is only on the verge of being noted for his acting chops. 

Despite the electric chemistry between the two leads, the breakout role goes to Woody Harrelson, as the gay sidekick with the sailor’s mouth that becomes the voice of reason to Timberlake’s character.  

The witty dialogue is not only timely, in addition to being rolling-on-the-floor funny, it is also relatable to society largely made out of cynics, a far cry from the hopeful romantic and optimists typically written into these type of movies. 

With a fresh and modern spin on a tired premise, "Friends With Benefits," is a delightfully outrageous surprise of the summer that will have audiences bursting out laughing. 

Reach Candice Aman here



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.