Every year there are always a couple films that have eerily similar plots (“The Prestige”/ “The Illusionist,” “Antz”/ “A Bug’s Life,” or “The Killers”/ “Knight and Day”). The worst part is that studios don’t even try to disguise the fact that they’re all using the same idea by spacing the movies out. They usually are released within a few months of each other depending on whoever can get it out there first so they look like the original ones.
This year, it’s “No Strings Attached” and “Friends with Benefits.” Both films are romcoms about a man and women who decide to go from best friends to sex friends, that is, a physical relationship without the hassle of emotions and feelings.
“Benefits,” which doesn’t come out until July, stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as the aforementioned friends. Based on the trailer, and the fact that it is written and directed by “Easy A’s” Will Gluck, I’m thinking it will lean more on the comedy side of romantic-comedy. So there’s a chance that it could be pretty decent. As long as people don’t see “Strings” and get turned off on the idea completely.
“Strings” stars Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman as Adam and Emma. They meet one summer at camp and coincidentally run into each other over the next 15 years until they conveniently end up both living in Los Angeles.
She’s an emotionally closed-off doctor while he’s an assistant on a “High School Musical-esque” TV show who wears his heart on his sleeve; which is funny because they’re total opposites. [insert canned laughter here] However will it all end?
It is possible to make a good romantic comedy. I’ve seen it done. And I guess it always comes down to the ending. No matter how good the hour and 45 minutes are, it’s the last 15 that either make it or break it.
The entire film is funny and cute; it’s full of likable characters and great performances, and then …there’s a big romantic gesture followed by a cliché sappy line which cues the sweeping music in the background. It’s supposed to make everyone (on screen and off) swoon and go weak in the knees, but the only thing it elicits from the audience is a groan and a roll of the eyes.
For the most part, “Strings” isn’t that bad. After “Black Swan” I’m totally loving Natalie Portman right now and not going to lie when I say she was the main reason I wanted to see this movie. Ashton Kutcher is really sweet too as a guy who just wants to be in love. I hate to admit it, but he’s kind of grown on me since “That 70’s Show.” (I’ve almost forgotten about “Dude, Where’s My Car?”)
My major problem is that neither character is really ever developed. From the first time we meet Emma we are continuously hit-over-the-head with the fact that she is a soulless robot, incapable of human emotions. But, it’s never explained why. And Adam is given a side story about his rocky relationship with his famous actor father (Kevin Klein), but that is never fully flushed out either.
Plus, there is an older doctor at Emma’s hospital who she is constantly flirting with for absolutely no reason, as far as I could tell. I feel like a lot of this film, you know, the scenes that would help it all make sense, were left on the cutting room floor.
The movie had its moments and I did laugh out loud a couple times, mainly at the supporting characters. All in all it was your standard romcom. I can’t say I expected much more, I guess I just hoped for it. But hey, just wait a few more months and we get to try it all over again with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. Oh, boy!