Sunday, 14 August 2011

“Let’s just do this ‘till one of us feels something more...”

No Strings Attached: directed by Ivan Reitman; written by Elizabeth Meriwether and Mike Samonek

I’d initially mean to review No Strings Attached as a two-in one review with its summer sister Friends with Benefits. But, I opted not to – similarities be damned. I read somewhere that Mila Kunis had said, in relation to the ostensible similarities between the two films that it was less of a copycat situation and more evidence of the Shakespearean concept of their being only so many stories to tell. Truth be told, I’ve always felt that romantic comedies are the victims of too harsh criticism. I can’t concur to a hatred of the genre based on an unfortunately disproportionate number of less than perfect entries, and really it’s not the predictability that fails Reitman’s piece. It’s....well, it’s everything, really.
I hate to set this up as a rebuttal of the review I posted for Friends with Benefits yesterday, but a few referrals will ensue, forgive me. Friends with Benefits was the type of film where the protagonists seemed claustrophobically disconnected from anyone their age, but it’s the opposite here. Emma and Adam are surrounded by a slew of bit players whose sole purpose seems to be to augment the lives of our main characters, marginally. Recounting the plot seems pointless, but I’ll bite. Adam and Emma have a series of meet-cutes over the years and eventually he ends up at her house drunk one night and the next morning they have sex. Post coitious the two decide that they’ll keep doing this because Emma’s too busy to find a man and Adam is... well, Adam doesn’t give a reason but we realise that he’s in love with Emma and he’s hoping to wear her down through the sex and whatnot. Yeah.

Story wise No Strings Attached just isn’t worth it. There’s a sense that the writers are taking part in a movie version of a potluck where they just toss whatever they can come up with at random. Daddy issues work, right? Enter Adam’s ridiculous rather who’s currently sleeping with his ex-girlfriend. Gay friends are cool? One of Emma’s roommates is. Check. There’s even a scene from a TV show Adam’s working at which seems like a creepy send-off to Glee and is wholly unnecessary like a number of things in the film. And, for all its swearing and adult themes everything in the films comes off as particularly innocuous. There’s little that’s bold about the story or the characters and that’s unfortunate because the film seems to be riding on the daring concept of people having sex who are NOT in a relationship (the gall of these crazy youths).
No Strings Attached seems to be one of those films that began with an idea, and never grew from there. I can imagine the writers sitting at a table coming up with a concept and then going, “Let’s just write and stop when we’ve had enough” and the thing is – when it ends, I’ve had enough. And, true, it’s not complete balderdash even I can appreciate the cutesy adorableness of Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman making bedroom eyes at each other. Or the silly humour of Mindy Kaling and Greta Gerwig being good for a few laughs, but this – right here – is one of those things that should have been stopped before it got this out of hand.


D+

1 comment:

simoncolumb said...

"similarities be damned"

Christ! LOVE, SEX AND OTHER DRUGS, HALL PASS, NO STRINGS ATTACHED and FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS are all films about guys attempting to condone lots of sex with lots of women - whilst sustaining some type of decent relationship. i'll bet all the guys 'learn a valuable lesson' by the end and stay with the love they were detined to be with.