- Published: Thursday, 21 July 2011 22:28
- Written by Lupe Haas
Hooray! The romantic comedy slump is over. FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS is smart, sexy, engaging and a lot of fun. And that’s just talking about the co-stars.
If you aren’t already in love with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake then this film with do it. If you are already in love with them, then this film will make you feel intelligent for discovering them earlier. With Patricia Clarkson portraying Jamie’s flaky mom and Richard Jenkins playing Dylan’s Alzheimer's stricken dad even the supporting cast is above par. Throw in Jenna Elfman as the understanding sister and Woody Harrelson as the wise, advice-giving “girlfriend” and you have one outstanding cast.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS begins with New York dwelling Jamie cursing a Katherine Heigl movie poster for filling her head with romantic notions. She has just been dumped by her boyfriend (Adam Samberg) standing in front of a revival house playing Pretty Woman. Meanwhile across the United States in Los Angeles, Dylan has just been dumped by his girlfriend (Emma Stone) in front of a John Mayer concert. Since the break-up will allow him to skip the concert he is considering it the best break-up ever, but in truth he is too emotionally guarded and his girlfriend has just called him on his lack of commitment.
When Jamie, who is a corporate head hunter, recruits Dylan to come to New York for a job as an artistic diretor of GQ magazine she decides not to sell the position but rather the city itself. If she can convince a contented Angeleno to give up his beloved LA, then she will get a huge signing bonus and another one if he makes the year. So she woos him. Not with her body, but with her love of New York and gives him the most romantic Big Apple weekend ever. He takes the job and Jamie and Dylan become best friends. Their relationship grows, they let their defenses down and become very close. But when a friends with benefits experiment threatens to destroy what they have, everything must be reevaluated and put right. They both start seeing other people and try to hold on to their friendship with both hands.
INTERVIEW: Justin Timberlake Suffers Pinched Nerve From Nude Scenes With Mila Kunis
The beauty of this film is the intimacy and rapport that we develop with these two characters. You become so invested that you enjoy spending time with them. You are in on the jokes, you learn their little quirks and you feel their pain when you watch them struggle with their other relationships. The script is so rich and layered that you feel like you really know this couple and you care deeply about them. You want them to succeed as people, together or not.
The comedy from this film comes mostly from character and you will find no gross-out humor, minimal physical schtick and only the occasional gay joke supplied by Woody Harrelson who plays a homosexual sports reporter for the magazine. The writing is so well done that you laugh with the characters instead of at them. They don’t go cheap to get you to snicker and another plus about this film is that it capitalizes on it’s stars natural assests. Mila uses her raspy voice, exotic looks and plucky nature to great effect and even makes fun of her small breast size. In contrast Justin uses his white bread visage and his ability to make fun of himself as he crones cringe-inducing pop songs and sneezes after sex. These are two actors who are very comfortable with who they are and it shows. Throughout this film you want to see them together.
Another fun thing about this film is it’s use of location. There is this whole east coast, west coast challenge going on and it leaves you wishing that you were rich enough to live bi-coastal. Both New York and LA are given such glamour treatment that it makes you want to take a vacation. That is the sign of a good romantic comedy, you fall in love with falling in love.
So if you are disappointed and feel betrayed by the most recent offerings of romantic comedy, then perk up. FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS will give you hope. If not for a relationship then for the state of the American film. There are outstanding young directors on the rise and Will Gluck is one of them. He also directed the delightful Easy A and the hysterical Fired Up! I also want to give props to writers Keith Merryman and David A. Newman. Great job team, I had a excellent time.
Visit her blog at lamelbox.blogspot.com