“No Strings Attached,” directed by Ivan Reitman (“Ghostbusters,” “Stripes,” “Kindergarten Cop,”) is the story of Adam (played by Ashton Kutcher) and Emma (played by Natalie Portman who also starred in the recent “Black Swan”).
The couple is enjoying a no strings attached relationship. That means sex, and lots of it, in a variety of positions and locales. Emma says she doesn’t want anything serious. But can they keep this up without one of them becoming emotionally attached? Nope. Adam is falling for Emma. He is patient to a point, but then decides to give it his best shot; he makes an attempt to woo her. Emma rejects his moves to get more serious. After this jolt, will Adam turn his back on his love? Will Emma warm to his advances before it’s too late–before he turns away from her forever? Well, if you want to know, you’ll have to buy a ticket. Although, I sort of figured out the ending in the first 15 minutes of the film. You probably will too.
“No Strings Attached” made me laugh out loud about five times. That’s good, more than a lot of other comedies. The problem is, many more jokes in the film simply fell flat. This is due to problems with pacing and timing (i.e. the film’s direction and editing). Some of it is also due to jokes in the script which simply aren’t that funny. There are several weird insertions of vulgar humor which feel out-of-place. I like dirty jokes, but these jokes seemed odd. I got the feeling that the filmmakers were making a purposeful attempt to appeal to the “vulgar joke” audience, so they stuck them into the movie to help it test better. Additionally, I don’t think the movie’s creators could decide which style of comedy to go with. It’s almost like three different movies–part vulgar shock comedy–part romantic comedy–and part farce. Overall, it doesn’t really work that well.
So, with “No Strings Attached” we have a modern look at dating and “hooking up”. While admittedly, I may not be the target demographic for this film, I have to believe that even most 20-somethings don’t really talk and behave like this. And by the way, it’s not the sex–it’s the other stuff. The characters do and say things throughout the movie for which they have seemingly no motivation. In fact, multiple times I just rolled my eyes thinking, no one would ever actually do (or say) that. There’s also very little character development.
To be fair, “No Strings Attached” was not created to be a great film. It was designed to entertain a little bit and to make money. The final twenty minutes of this unusual romantic comedy pull predictably (and effectively) on viewers’ heart-strings so that audiences will leave the theater thinking happy thoughts. This, so that we will help spread positive word of mouth for the film. The problem is, I can’t forget the earlier awkward 90 minutes of the film.
Both Portman and Kutcher perform well enough in their roles, providing good looks, smiles and requisite surface-level emotions. And largely because of their screen presence, “No Strings Attached” ends up being an enjoyable, sometimes funny diversion.
Rating: 2 out of 4 stars (barely)
2011, Rated R, 108 minutes, Comedy, Romance