Ivan Reitman – whose directing career (“Ghostbusters”) is so long in the tooth that he actually has a son, Jason, directing Oscar-worthy comedies – has his best outing in using flip of the “friends with benefits” sex-leads-to-love romantic comedy formula.
It’s a movie benefiting from another sparkling, sexy and emotionally available performance by Natalie Portman, some clever turns in situations and witty banter that isn’t shy about crossing over into “Hangover” level raunchy.
Elizabeth Meriwether’s script has that “(500) Days of Summer” gimmick, telling the story of this couple in clumps over a 15 year period. Super sp, way back when, and they had a momentary fling. Ten years later, they meet again and the pretty, flirty Emma (Portman) invites Adam to “this thing” she has to go to. It’s her dad’s funeral. But dopey-handsome Adam (Ashton Kutcher, NOT cast against type) doesn’t hear the “She’s cut off from her emotions” warning bells, even when she confesses, “If you’re lucky, you’re never going to see me again.”
And then, that magical night when the boy drunk-dials the girl and something begins. But don’t call it a thoroughly modern romance. Emma, now an MIT trained doctor, won’t have that. She’s busy. She’s guarded. m.” – and nothing more.
They have their romps, but snuggling and the like – real intimacy – scares her off. That’s catnip to the lad, so for Adam, the chase is on.
Portman, almost certainly an Oscar nominee for “Black Swan,” carries this movie with her warmth and her wicked way with an incredibly crude come-on. Kutcher is better at bringing view the funny that in carrying the emotional weight. Reitman didn’t suddenly evolve into a warmer, deeper filmmaker, either.
But the director surrounds his leads with funny people saying witty things. Adam’s best friend (Jake M. Johnson) mocks him for giving his lady love a gift of balloons – “Who do you think you are, the old guy from ‘Up’?” Kevin Kline plays Adam’s has-been TV star dad, a lecher who thinks nothing of taking up with one of Adam’s ex-girlfriends. Lake Bell is the leggy but awkward and lovestruck co-worker at Adam’s job. He’s a production assistant on a “Glee”-like high school musical show.
And the wonderful Greta Gerwig (“Greenberg”) spices up the role of Emma’s college pal, the one who barely outgrows that sorority girl’s mating call – “I’m so druuuuuunk.”
Whatever corners the writer Meriwither paints herself into – and this movie seems stitched from several recent romances including “Rachel Getting Married” (Olivia Thirlby is Emma’s younger, matrimony-minded sibling) – cute situations and cheeky dialogue bail her out. You know it’s love when the guy makes you a menstruation mix tape – “Red Red Wine,” “I’ve got the World on a String,” and an even more obvious Leona Lewis hit.
And the sentiment – her love of convenience, his love of love – hasn’t grown old, through “(500) Days of Summer,” “Up in the Air” (by Reitman’s son) and “Love & Other Drugs,” though it might by the time the movie actually titled “Friends with Benefits” hits theaters this summer.
The first image from No Strings Attached. Directed by Ivan Reitman, the film stars Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, and Olivia Thirlby.
The first look of director Ivan Reitman’s No Strings Attached has been released a few days before its trailer, which is going to premiere this Friday. The film, which stars Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, is about two friends who decide to have a purely physical relationship. Hearts get involved, and you have the perfect romantic comedy. Reitman, of Ghostbusters fame and father of director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), found his first array into the rated-R comedy hit quite close to home. “I noticed from my own kids that with this generation in particular, young people find it easier to have a sexual relationship than an emotional one. That is how sexes deal with each other today,” (via USA Today). This seems to be a topic that is interesting other film makes, since a similarly named Friends With Benefits is coming out next summer with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. For the image, more info on No Strings Attached, and more on both Portman and Kutcher’s future projects, hit the jump. No Strings Attached is due out .