Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman do average jobs. Ashton hams away to glory while Natalie is clearly ill at ease playing her character. In fact, the character actors in the cast do a far better job than the lead actors. Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes, Ludacris and Jake M. Johnson are memorable. The girl gang – Greta Gerwig, Olivia Thirlby, Mindy Kaling, Talia Balsam and Ophelia Lovibond – provide able support. Lake Bell (as Adam’s boss) is the pick of the lot for her fine performance.
It soon becomes clear, however, that Emma has �intimacy issues‘ and just wants sex, no romance, no hand-holding, no hugging, and no learning
Ivan Reitman’s direction is nothing to write home about. He glosses over the basic flaws in the script and makes it seem like the idea of a couple of people having sex all the time will be interesting enough for the audiences. Maybe it would have been the case, were the goings-on convincing enough. By and large, the film entertains little beyond offering a few laughs. John Debney’s background score is okay. Rogier Stoffers‘ camerawork is functional. Editor Dana E. Glauberman could have done with a few more cuts in the second half.
Natalie Portman’s first comedy of the year, and a return to the big screen for director Ivan Reitman. But is No Strings Attached any good?
2011 looks like it may be the year that Natalie Portman follows up her award-worthy performance in Black Swan with the Ivan Reitman directed romantic comedy No Strings Attached, pairing a serious and more �worthy‘ film with something fluffier, presumably to cleanse herself of all the psychological trauma and baggage that comes with playing a demented ballerina. This has come to be known (by me) as the �Coens gambit‘. The alternating of tones, I mean. Not the ballerina thing.
(A quick digression: the print of No Strings Attached I saw was accompanied by the trailer for Justin Bieber’s upcoming 3D concert film Never Say Never, a surprise that was met with audibly pained gasps of horror from the audience. The Kutcher-helmed Punk’d finished in 2007, but it was recently announced that the concept was due to be revived and reimagined, Batman Begins-style, with a new presenter at the helm, Justin Bieber. Such is the intricate tapestry of asinine 21st century pop bullshit.)
The female lead in a romantic comedy is a commitment phobe, and the male lead is the one pushing for a relationship!
Kutcher plays Adam, a wannabe TV writer who is struggling to get his scripts noticed, at least without employing some serious nepotism on behalf of his dad (Kevin Kline), who happens to be a famous sitcom actor. When Adam discovers Dad has been sleeping with his ex-girlfriend, he gets paralysingly drunk and calls everybody in his phone book in desperate need of a rebound hook-up.
Eventually, he wakes up naked and on the sofa of Emma (Portman), a girl we have already been introduced to in a couple of rather pointless prologue scenes that seem to exist solely to employ a couple of child actors and give the cast the chance to wear some different clothes.
After some flirtatious teasing, Emma eventually grants him the steamy liaison he was after, and the two begin seeing each other on a regular basis.
Adam, however, can’t help but wish things would go a little further. Yes, you read that right. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!