Release Date: 9th September
Director: Will Gluck
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Richard Jenkins, Woody Harrelson
Running Time: 109mins
Over the past few years the romantic comedy has become a genre that is adapting to an audience that know better. Knocked Up, 500 Days of Summer, Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which Kunis starred in) and most recently Bridesmaids have shown the search for love through honest and believable eyes that have the viewer saying “I’ve been there”. Friends with Benefits is the latest to go with just that sort of angle by making an outright statement that love doesn’t have a soundtrack to tell you how to feel and that break ups and make ups aren’t as easy as what you see in the cinema – which is exactly what this film does anyway.
The first piece of foot-shooting evidence comes from the leading lad and lass Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis who continue to show their acting mettle after both starring in award worthy films of late.
It’s undeniable that The Social Network and Black Swan stars have a solid chemistry but the characters themselves come straight from the structure of your typical weepy chick-flick. She’s a go-getting, ballsy headhunter who knows the city like the back of her hand but has no idea how to find the right guy and he’s the talented but timid gent from out of town who is ‘emotionally unavailable’ for reasons that have yet to be revealed. The two get along like a house on fire and eventually decide to be bunk buddies with nothing more to it – but of course there is.
Soon the giggle worthy love scenes that aren’t afraid to go under the covers like many before it start to feel wasted when crossed wires and potential in-laws advise them to cut the bullshit and just get together just like any other. It’s still entertaining undoubtedly but to go to all that effort of trying to make this out as something it’s not is pointless.
That being said the one thing that doesn’t make this such a waste is the talent involved. Throw a heart shaped stone in any direction and you’re going to hit someone making a worthy appearance whether it’s Justin Timberlake’s gay sports writer colleague played by Woody Harrelson who gives our hero a bunch of advice or his on-screen father, Richard Jenkins who is always welcome in anything he turns up in.
There is nothing honestly wrong with Friends with Benefits; it all does a good job pulling you in and hoping to see the guy get the girl as romantic comedies should, rounding things off with your typical Hollywood ending. However it’s that exact sort of finale it’s been trying to steer away from that begs the question if all of it served any purpose in the first place. Not a film to really fall in love over but we’ll happily stay friends with.