No Strings Attached (2011)
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Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes, Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell, Olivia Thirlby, Ludacris, Jake M. Johnson, Mindy Kaling, Talia Balsam, Ophelia Lovibond, Jennifer Irwin, Adhir Kalyan, Gary David Goldberg, Armen Weitzman, Shaun Russell, Nealla Gordon, Seth Morris, Jason Williams, Tom Tangen, Tim Matheson, Kherington Payne, Elizabeth Meriwether, Ben Lawson, Brian H. Dierker, Abby Elliott, Mollee Gray, Derek Ferguson, Matthew Moy, Tyne Stecklein, Kym Connor, Renna Bartlett, Jennifer Hamilton, Krystal Ellsworth, Kim Marko Germar, Megan Honore, Nick Lanzisera, Moira 'Anjolie' Marfori, Katrina Norman, Heather Phillips, Britt Stewart, Paula Van Oppen, William T. Loftis, Casey Monnie, Hugo, John Barclay, Joshua Andreacola, Milton Greenberg, Rachel McDermott, Robert Trapp, Rachael Markarian, Dylan Hayes, Stefanie Scott, Guy Branum, Vedette Lim, Nasim Pedrad, Dalphe Morantus, Ben Lautman
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Pull the String
When I went to review this, I typed in Friends With Benefits, and I'm only reviewing it is because I want to do so before I forget it completely.
Yeah. You can see where this is probably going.
No Strings Attached makes a point of illustrating that Adam (Ashton Kutcher) and Emma (Natalie Portman) have known each other since pre-teen summer camp, a vunerable time for Adam when his parents were getting divorced. In a microcosm of the entire film, we are shown that Adam is sensitive - he weeps and Emma consoles him - and then he asks her if he can finger her. We are then treated to blips years later as the two meet in college, then having just finished college, then a year after that.
The movie tries to insinuate that there was some kismet in each of these phases, but little is evidenced by the awkwardly terrible dialog and mild siuations that would quickly fade from the minds of two people heading in what looks like completely different directions. Adam is the son of an aging TV star and seems naturally suited to the frat life they show him living; Emma is a career-minded medical resident who wants someone "in her bed at 2 am that she doesn't have to have breakfast with".
The writing for both of these characters - and their interaction - is uneven, inconsistent, and unnatural. Portman's Emma has severe boundary issues, the kind that seems fostered more from a massive breach of trust from some sort of man-source than simply having a foppish mother, and is given two lines of dialog to solve. Adam too quickly escalates to pop-bys and public displays of affection - illustrating that sensitive thing (which would more realistically have netted a restraining order) - and yet when we first catch up with him he was dating a bubble-headed skank. Said skank dates his father, and this sends Adam on an attempted bender of meaningless sex that lands him betwixt Emma's legs.
Aside from the failure for these characters to resemble actual human beings on more than a passing level, the film also never has the courage to show a single consequnce for anything or have anyone do anything really mean. Adam's father (played by Kevin Kline obviously in need of a paycheck - JESUS MAN, you won an Academy Award!) doesn't screw Adam's girlfriend while she's with him - he is in a relationship with her eight months after the skank left Adam. At one point, Emma tells Adam he should sleep with other people, but she stops him before he can of course. Adam nearly hooks up with a colleague from his job as a production assistant - boss, actually - and through a turn of events blows her off. Strings quickly spackles that problem over.
The movie isn't wholly unwatchable - Portman is still adorable, and some of the dialog and supporting characters illicit a chuckle - but most of the dialog is gawd awful and Kutcher isn't nearly as capable of smothering a ball in the dirt as is the rest of the cast.
"Stop. One step closer... and I'm never letting you go."
Seriously? Pull the string on this forgettable film.
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