Z’s Review of Friends With Benefits
While it is well known that I am a pretty big supporter and fan of romantic-comedies, I am also their fiercest opponent when done poorly. There is something to be said about those kind of films where you don’t have to think while ogling the stars for the next few hours because that is what they are being paid millions of dollars for.
Let me just get this out of the way.
I fricken loved Friends With Benefits.
Full on over the moon, hooked on a feeling love, love, love this movie. It has actually surprised me how much I enjoyed it. It’s not a perfect movie, however when it comes to the whacky world of rom-coms, it comes pretty close. The main reason and most of the credit has to go to two people : Mila Kunis and Will Gluck.
This movie is the breakout role that many of us who have been fans of That 70’s Show have been waiting for. Mila Kunis makes this movie with a performance that can only be described as magnetic. We already know that she is stunning, however what we find out with this movie is that those years in the farm system of Fox Comedy alongside Ashton Kutcher, Topher Grace and Wilder Valderamma, have given her ridiculous comedic chops and timing that people decades ahead of her haven’t been able to master. And that is why she is a joy to watch. Aside from her being half-naked throughout the movie with Timberlake, whenever she says something, we are glued to the screen and it is for this reason that this, not her Black Swan performance is what I will remember as her breakout movie role.
Will Gluck is a name that we are going to here again and again in the future as his is a talent that will entertain us for a long time to come. His direction of this movie provided a great foundation for his stellar support cast which include Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Richard Jenkins and his two main stars. There was not too much fat as far as extra or overly-edited scenes. The writing was kept crisp and got us to where we needed to get to from the moment it started to the final obligatory bloopers during the credits. It is very easy for a rom-com to lose itself in pop-culture references that will probably considered old by the time the movie was done, however Gluck does a great job of using them while keeping us focused on the story and its two leads.
To address the Justin Timberlake factor, I will give him this, he is really putting his all into learning acting. He has definitely improved from his role in the Social Network, however that isn’t saying much. Watching him try to keep up with Sorkin’s words was a little painful to watch and thankfully the Friends With Benefits script is a lot easier for him swallow and spit out. He is there for one reason only, to draw the females into the theatre. Every woman I know that saw it went in saying that Timberlake better take his shirt off for at least half the movie. Well he does and while doing so he manages to put together a pretty decent performance that is definitely worth watching. I will say this that without Mila Kunis and to a lesser degree the supporting cast, Timberlake would not have come across nearly as close to as good as he does with this movie.
The movie itself is an interesting take on a pretty proven formula. In fact, throughout the movie it takes great pains to mock that formula while adhering to it itself and while that is one of the faults I found with it, it by no means took away from my enjoyment of it.
The plot is straightforward and comes with no surprises, Dylan (Timberlake) moves to New York to work at GQ Magazine after headhunter Jamie (Kunis) offers him an offer he can’t refuse. The movie spends the first act showing this process unfold while also introducing us to the characters and more importantly showing how they first became friends. Once he takes the job and moves to New York, Dylan finds himself hanging out with Jamie quite a bit which leads to their deal to become ‘Friends With Benefits’. From there, we find them on a journey that inevitably finds them falling in love in a finale that actually is pretty cute to watch and well put together. In fact the whole movie is made of cool little moments that are very well put together. Supported by a pretty fantastic and not too corny script, we seem to have ourselves an instant addition to the Blu-Ray/DVD/iTunes collection for most.
Check out Friends With Benefits, even if you are not a fan of the rom-coms. While Friends With Benefits is obviously is one, it’s comedic elements are strong enough to keep even the most cynical interested.