Written by / 3/26/2012 / No comments / , , , ,

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

title: FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
year: 2011
cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis
rating: ***

This movie does one thing successfully – and it’s mindboggling. Mila Kunis, as a young lady no one wants to commit to, will seem completely unattractive. Kunis plays a big city corporate “headhunter” dumped by a guy who, in real life, wouldn’t tie her shoes. She then hires Justin Timberlake into their big city firm. Their job doesn’t matter and both actors seem way too young for their occupations – much of the dialog sounds forced into the mouths of two actors better suited for a college-based TV show. But both try their best to make the premise believable: two beautiful people agree to remain friends with benefits i.e. they can have great sex but won’t be in an actual relationship. Of course they wind up falling for each other but there’s a lot happening before this inevitable conclusion – which is never fully realized. The scriptwriters try so hard to stray from the cookie-cutter rom-com template that there’s a movie within a movie (starring Jason Segel) that purposely basks in clichés, including manipulate sappy soundtrack and banal one-liners: making it clear to the characters and audience we’re breaking new ground. But are we? This premise has been done before, but Kunis and Timberlake have an essential chemistry to make their sexual escapades – and the morning-after banter sparking an inevitably tense kinship – feel fresh and involving. Patricia Clarkson adds the needed aged experience as Kunis’s quirky mom and Woody Harrelson’s turn as Timberlake’s gay pal basks in intentional scene-stealing dialog. But it’s Timberlake who, despite a whiny high-pitched voice not fully befitting the big screen, succeeds by convincing us that Kunis might not be a worthy long-term girlfriend – now that’s a feat.
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