Movie: 2½ stars
Picture: 4½ stars
Sound: 4 stars
Friends with benefits: Is that kind of modern-day relationship really possible? No Strings Attached looks into that question for almost an hour before ending up in typical Hollywood rom-com land.
Adam (Ashton Kutcher) first meets Emma (Natalie Portman) when they are both kids at camp. Ten years later, they run into each other at a drunken frat party. The next day, Adam attends a funeral with Emma, and the two part company. On to the present: Emma runs into a hung-over Adam in the house she shares with other medical students. She’s well on her way to becoming a doctor and doesn’t have time for romance. So Emma suggests that she and Adam have sex, without those nasty strings. Adam agrees, and they’re off at it like rabbits, grabbing a quick couple of minutes here and there but never getting in each other’s way.
It’s clear from the start, however, that Adam is only agreeing with Emma to get some time with her, even if it’s time on her terms. He gets closer and closer to her — and by then, we’re in the second half of the movie, where Adam courts Emma, she resists, she realizes what she might be missing, and . . . I don’t have to tell you the rest.
The movie isn’t awful, but the first part is unsettling, because we’re first given these two young people as “such nice kids.” It’s as if Doris Day and Rock Hudson were suddenly transported to the present and given permission to use adult language and one bed. Still, Kutcher can be lovable in a bumble-along, deadpan-humor way. And two production numbers that spoof High School Musical are quite delightful.
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