Friends With Benefits Reviews
Standing out as marginally unique in its field, Friends with Benefits makes a point of satirizing and skewering the genre. With a plethora of pop-culture references, tech-savvy innuendoes (including a singing-bible ipad app) and playfully inappropriate one-liners, it is an engaging journey that pokes fun at the formula whilst managing to exactly exemplify the saccharine love story it claims to be better than.
Opening with a breakup, we meet Jamie (Mila Kunis) and Dylan (Justin Timberlake) individually being shafted by their respective others, declaring the only course is to shut themselves down and becoming emotionally unavailable.
Dylan, the art director of a popular website in LA, is lured to the big apple with an offer of his dream job at GQ magazine by the enticing and quirky NY head hunter Jamie. Not your average recruiter, Dylan's first impression of Jamie fumbling clumsy and barefoot on a baggage carousel chasing a makeshift lipstick welcome sign (you can see the cutesy-ness from a mile away).
After being offered the job on the spot, Dylan needs convincing to leave his life and family in LA for the big smoke, and Jamie is just the girl for the job. Sparking a genuine friendship, the duo head out on the town, drink a few beers and enjoy hang out.
However, after a night in picking on sappy romance movies the conversation turns to sex, which both (in their unavailable and damaged mental states) agree is necessary but preferable without strings, like tennis. Making an unconventional pact, they shun emotion and agree to service each other physically whilst checking romance at the door and always promising to remain friends no matter what.
Uninhibited by their status, the pair are honestly declare their frisky, raunchy and frank sexual desires leading to comically experimental sex scenes. Their lusty appetite and teasing banter turn the best buds into best bed-buds.
But beneath Jamie's feisty facade she's a wounded romantic and contradictory to Dylan's suave demeanour he is insecure; not a good mix for a platonic relationship focused on sexual gratification.
The lively script cleverly deconstructs and delves into every crevice of a relationship, but soon becomes slave to the stereotype it means to tweak. However, with a welcome degree of wit, charm and spirited flair we can overlook the infraction.
Timberlake and Kunis bring sexy back to a tired formula. Timberlake gets away with making wildly inappropriate puns whilst maintaining a steady stream of hilarious bursts of homage and apt parodies to forgotten 90s rap duo Kriss Kross. The lithe Kunis is far more interesting and delivers with a clout that her ditzy blonde genre sisters Heigl, Hudson, Wiig and ... the list go's on.
The standout supporting cast of Patricia Clarkson as Jamie's inappropriate hippy man-hungry mother, Richard Jenkins as Dylan's Alzheimer's stricken dad who no longer likes his pants, and Woody Harrelson is a hoot as GQ's blatantly horny gay sports editor who likes to get nasty (quote not quite appropriate).
The Verdict: A tale of sex-buddies who turn out to be soul mates is far from original but with ease this is probably one of the best portrayals of it. As one romantic flash mob scene follows another the only victim in this movie is New York through inept cinematography.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 26/08/2011