Review – Friends With Benefits
– by Jennie Orton
If you’re someone who likes life to be choreographed like a flash mob, look no further than Friends with Benefits.
Directed by Easy A’s Will Gluck and starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, it appears to have been made for people who liked the movie No Strings Attached, from earlier this year, but who were longing to see it done with people that had SOME sex appeal. The end result feels like an unnecessary root canal.
Admittedly, these two actors could be considered charming. The slick banter between them flies like a ping-pong match and anyone who has watched ping pong can attest, it gets REALLY boring after a while unless someone flies off their feet reaching for a tough shot. But there are no tough shots in this movie, only generous lobs and cheeky behind-the-back returns.
The story has been done: two strangers who have been unlucky with love because of their mutual intimacy issues decide to bypass romance and engage in a purely sexual relationship. Foolproof right? Well get ready to be shocked because – gasp! – it’s not.
Friends With Benefits is yet another film that attempts to convince us that sexual instinct creates loneliness and that emotion is all that matters. Which is ironic, considering neither of the main actors can get past their comedic posturing long enough to display any emotion. This becomes especially trying when the film reveals these two swaggering characters’ so-called issues.
The supporting cast is full of surprises. Woody Harrelson appears in a bonkers portrayal of a gay sports editor who tries to appear wise, but Harrelson never steps outside his caricature. The talented Patricia Clarkson is completely wasted as Kunis’ free-spirited mother, who is merely a paper-thin hippie cartoon. Richard Jenkins does his best trying to legitimately play the role of Timberlake’s father, who has Alzheimer’s, but bad direction stops him from acquiring any real depth. And then Jenna Elfman shows up, which is always irritating.
Today, heroes are dressed in sequined dance costumes to perform for a voting audience on TV, so it’s no surprise that romance has become a slick set of moves set to 1-2-3. And I suppose that is who this movie is written for.
But what about the people with two left feet? What about the stumblers? You know, the people in the theatre who normally leave romantic comedies longing for affection so hard they purchase their weight in chocolate and adopt another cat?
Would that be too messy for the masses? Maybe a bit too sloppy and scary? Probably. I am guessing that’s why movies like this get made. Because it’s easier to buy love that looks good in sequins sold by two actors who have never wanted for anything, ESPECIALLY affection. Especially a couple that looks good on the movie poster. Escapism squared with a side of popcorn.
Watch – Friends with Benefits (trailer):