I’m sure the point of romantic comedies is to be uplifting and even cheery in regards to the warm and fuzzy feelings one gets when they see and feel love. More often than not however, I sit to watch a rom com and I’m either bored to tears or depressed depending on how unfunny the movie is. Every so often though I can connect to one and get a fair amount of entertainment from them especially if they are raunchier than the typical Jennifer Anniston film. NO STRINGS ATTACHED is about as predictable as romantic comedies come, but it’s still got enough laughs in the script to keep the average dude from chewing their arm off to separate themselves from their significant other while cuddling on the couch.
Adam (Ashton Kutcher) is an assistant on a popular TV show but having some trouble in the romantic side of his life after he discovers his father (Kevin Kline) is dating his ex. Adam then finds himself in a sexual encounter with a recurring face from his past, Emma (Natalie Portman), that is looking for nothing more than a friend with benefits. The arrangement goes well for a while until Adam becomes convinced that he wants more than just the casual hookup but Emma is adamant on keeping their arrangement as is.
The R rated comedy can be a truly beautiful thing; for instance, it can turn what would be a bland rom com into an above average and charming movie. The jokes aren’t on quite the same level as most of the films in the genre I’ve enjoyed lately such as GOING THE DISTANCE but the cast has an undeniable chemistry that makes it work. Much like GOING THE DISTANCE though the film seems to rely pretty heavily on the friend characters for most of the comedy and while they are funny here, they aren’t written with as much charm as I’d of liked.
I can usually only take Ashton Kutcher in small doses, which means I can’t really tune into one of his movies without getting sort of irritated by the end. It’s not that I don’t like him; it’s just that the projects he’s usually involved in don’t give his character much to work with. That said I really enjoyed him in NO STRINGS ATTACHED; even though I still don’t think his character was written extremely well. Natalie Portman is really great on the other hand. She gives the role a great amount of pep that it really needed and more. Portman and Kutcher together make the film as enjoyable as it is, separate, neither of their roles are all that spectacular.
As far as the R rated comedy in NO STRINGS attached little to absolutely none of it is from gross out gags. The restricted rating comes solely from sex, sexual humor and language. The dirty nature of the comedy is what makes an R rated comedy as tolerable as they tend to be for me. So while I commend Ivan Reitman for making NO STRINGS ATTACHED an adult comedy, the film is not completely devoid of the generic rom com missteps. The biggest difference is that Reitman executed them better than in anything that stars Katherine Heigl or Jennifer Anniston.
NO STRINGS ATTACHED has a premise that I feel perfectly describes the way I feel people should enjoy it by. In my opinion the film doesn’t want people to love it, but simply like it enough to give it a go then move on and maybe give it a call when you’re bored. The cast is good enough that some people might be able to fall in love with it, but the deeper they get into the relationship the more they dig out the annoying traits that turn them off. There might be plenty of other fish in the sea, but NO STRINGS ATTACHED is the kind that you at least keep around for a while as opposed to tossing it back in the water without a second look.