Friday, July 22, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: Friends with Benefits

Guest blogger Liz Parker is back from an advance screening of "Friends with Benefits" staring Justin Timberlake.  Is this just a rehash of "No Strings Attached" or something more?  Let's read what Liz thinks...

From its plot summary, Friends with Benefits sounds very similar to No Strings Attached, which came out in theaters this past January. From the posters, it looks like the only difference is that Justin Timberlake replaces Ashton Kutcher, and Mila Kunis stands in for Natalie Portman. The actual difference between the two movies, though, is that NSA was cute but not great, in my opinion, and FWB ended up being hilarious and a lot better than I thought it would be.

Jamie (Mila Kunis, "Black Swan") is a headhunter who is looking to recruit Dylan (Justin Timberlake, "The Social Network") to work as the art director for GQ in New York. He's an LA boy, born and bred, and isn't too keen on moving all the way across the country just for a job. Jamie shows him how fun NYC can be, however, and he decides to take the job. They become friends and one night, Jamie complains to him about how sometimes she misses sex, but she doesn't want to start a relationship because that comes with consequences and "rules." Jamie and Dylan decide to have a "friends with benefits" relationship, which includes sex but no attachments. The plan works well for a while until Jamie decides to break it off, and see what "real" guys are out there for her. Meanwhile, both of them end up being single for the July 4th weekend, and Dylan persuades Jamie to come to LA with him while he visits his dad and sister. The pair soon realizes that being "friends with benefits" is something that might not work for them after all, because they're starting to fall for each other.

Timberlake and Kunis were great in this movie, and they had a lot more chemistry than Kutcher and Portman in NSA. The supporting characters were hilarious as well - Andy Samberg (TV's "Saturday Night Live") and Emma Stone ("Easy A") as Timberlake and Kunis's exes, Patricia Clarkson ("Easy A") and Kunis's crazy but well-meaning mom, and Jenna Elfman ("Love Hurts") as Timberlake's sister. Richard Jenkins ("Hall Pass") has an interesting role as Timberlake's father, who is in the early stages of Alzheimers, and there is a surprise cameo by two stars as actors in a rom-com movie that Kunis's character likes. FWB juggles a few plots throughout its runtime, but it manages to tie them together seamlessly by the end of the film.

Yes, see this movie. The audience (including myself) were laughing at the majority of the jokes, and the movie overall was fresh and funny. I enjoyed Friends with Benefits a lot more than I enjoyed No Strings Attached, and there were major plot differences between the two as well; in FWB, Jamie didn't originally know Dylan (she meets him when he comes to NYC for the GQ interview), rather than being friends who had known each other a long time like in NSA, and it's the woman (Jamie) in this film who wants more out of the relationship, rather than the man (Ashton's character) like in NSA. FWB is a bit raunchier than NSA but there's not any major nudity, and the language wasn't that bad either. If you are in the mood for a hilarious romantic comedy, you will do well in choosing to see Friends with Benefits.

Friends with Benefits is in theaters today, July 22nd.

Liz Parker is a 2009 graduate of the University of Michigan. She currently works as an Assistant Medical Editor for a pathology website. Visit her at her movie blog Yes/No Films
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