Sunday, February 13, 2011

No Strings Attached

Time For Some Romance

Trending is powerful. When an idea seemed viable, a series of films will get made, from end of the world stuff, to vampires and alien invasions, and it's even applicable to the romantic comedy genre. I wonder who came up with the recent thought about designing a film exploring the friends with benefits concept, and here we're faced with at least three of such films having Hollywood starlets in various stages of undress, from Love with Other Drugs, No Strings Attached milking the Valentine's Day weekend here, and soon Friends with Benefits starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Seems like f*ck buddies are getting mainstream acceptance with everyone jumping onto the same bandwagon in Tinseltown.

But more powerful than that, is the shift toward the alpha-female type of character, even if just for a while, laying the ground rules and setting the parameters in which a courtship, friendship and relationship should be based upon. Gone out the window are the demure and needy types, and in come female characters who know what they want, are high fliers, doing charitable causes and the likes, and just having the guys strung around their finger. Rudyard Kipling's "... the female of the species is more deadly than the male..." is steadfast here, where the only time the male characters are needed, is for that recreational purpose. They do not want commitment, nor settle down or want to be in a long term relationship, skipping past chances to get emotionally hurt, and prefer to keep things status quo in their singledom.

Ashton Kutcher goes against type since he's always the stud of any film and stars as Adam, an aspiring television screenwriter who has absolutely no luck with women, even having to suffer some loss of face with his ex-girlfriends preferring a relationships with his television star dad (Kevin Kline). Who is way older. But richer of course. Throughout his 15 years we see how he has this magnetic attraction for Emma (Natalie Portman) and vice versa, only that both of them fail to want to admit it, with Emma preferring a no-frills sexual relationship in lieu of a proper one that involves feelings. For a guy, I suppose this is something quite agreeable, so Adam goes for it.

While Love and Other Drugs got an M18 rating for its gratuitous nudity, this one was rated the same but had none of the showing of that much skin, only because it featured a pair of lesbians going at it while clothed. Both Adam and Emma only go at it like crazy jackrabbits in a montage, and other than that the narrative treaded on perfect rom-com ground, without quite the intelligent and interesting story that Love and Other Drugs had. Still, with Ivan Reitman (who makes a cameo too) at the helm, one would have thought that it may have offered at least something out of the ordinary, but no such luck as the film had it pat down right to the expected finale on how things would turn out in Hollywood.

If you think you've seen enough of Natalie Portman lately, think again. The current It girl who has been sweeping up awards for her Black Swan portrayal, she's having a busy 2011 as well with the upcoming Marvel summer blockbuster Thor and other films such as Your Highness and Cloud Atlas. While she and Kutcher share some delightful chemistry, being first of all good lookers is almost the requisite in any romantic film, the casting of the two who have such a difference in height also made it as passing jibes in the film, while you can't help but to notice some distracting camera angles being employed to make the difference none too jarring so that they can share the same frame, or perhaps Portman could have been standing on a soapbox.

Like one character said, we don't choose who we fall in love with, and we just do. That perhaps came out as one of the rare few times that you'll be nodding at some enlightenment, otherwise you'll be basking in some of the really bad innuendos and jokes, and wondering why the need for such a large supporting cast such as Cary Elwes, Ludacris, Jake M. Johnson, Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell and Mindy Kaling all coming on as very rote caricatures. Sure it's good enough for that Valentine's Day lineup, but it's none too memorable once the lights come on, without the benefit of a strong story running parallel to the romance.

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