Friends with Benefits (2011)


Let’s Play Tennis

Today ended up being a pretty rough day for me when it comes to reviews. Not because I didn’t have time to review anything but had to force one in, but because I watched 3 movies and want to do all 3 reviews back to back. These three movies are all comedies, but much different types of comedies that you will be presented with over the next 3 days. First on my list is the 3rd part to the epic and unrelated friends who fuck each other but won’t get into a relationship series. I saw No Strings Attached before I started doing reviews, so I assume I will need to back track to it eventually to write the review for it. Love and Other Drugs I saw and reviewed already. That leaves only one: Friends with Benefits, written by Harley Peyton, Keith Merryman, and David A. Newman, directed by Will Gluck, and starring Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Richard Jenkins, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, and Woody Harrelson, with notable cameos by Emma Stone, Andy Samberg, Shaun White, and Masi Oka.

Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) get dumped by their respective significant others, Emma Stone and Andy Samberg, at the very beginning of the movie, and that makes them gunshy about any future relationships. Dylan, an art director for a small internet company, goes to New York City to take a meeting with GQ about a job offer and Jamie is sent to try to convince him it’s a good idea. The two hit it off and Jamie really sells him on NYC, so he takes the job. They become pretty good friends pretty quickly. One day, while mocking a romantic comedy, Dylan proposes the idea that the two of them should bump uglies – or in their case, bump ridiculously hot and handsomes – and just be friends. This goes really awesome for them for a long time. Jamie starts dating a guy named Parker, who ditches out on her after they have sex. Dylan proposes that she accompany him back to LA to visit his family, sister Annie (Jenna Elfman) and father (Richard Jenkins). On this trip, their feelings start to interfere with their awesome fuck-buddyship. It’s a rom-com, so you can expect a good bit of happily ever after.

Having seen all three sex buddy rom-coms, I can say this one is by far the best. Love and Other Drugs was too much drama and way not enough funny, and, though Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are a pretty pair, you can give us TOO much nudity. No Strings Attached was funnier than Love and Other Drugs by a lot, and the drama wasn’t as heavy, and Portman is a great actress, but she was dragged down a lot by the not very likeable Kutch. Friends with Benefits manages to hit a nice sweet spot in all categories. Timberlake and Kunis are both good looking enough to appeal to any human with normal sexuality, and we don’t see everything so we don’t get bored with looking at them naked. There is a good deal of comedy to the movie and a fair amount of drama, but nowhere near enough to call this melodrama like Love and Other Drugs. It was light drama, so we don’t get depressed in the middle of our comedy. The pair in this movie have a lot of good dialogue written for them. The first act of the movie is filled with great back and forth between the two stars, and most of it is pretty funny. Their banter suffers a little once the fucking begins, but that might be in part that I was desperately searching for a little more nudity from Kunis. And the search is what I want. Once you give it to me, I’m satisfied. When you beat me over the head with it, I’m bored. Their banter gets back to form getting towards the end of the movie. I especially liked when Kunis was making fun of Timberlake for the fact that he used to like Kris Kross, and Timberlake busts a rap from “Jump”. One problem I had with the movie was that they sat around mocking a rom-com for using manipulative music and all the typical things from rom-coms, but they use most of these staples in their own movie. I’m sure it was done to be a little tongue-in-cheek, but it more served to just point out those things and make us notice them in their own movie. One such cliche is them sitting on the Hollywood sign, although that did end in some good funny. One thing they did that I don’t recall ever seeing is that they had Annie’s son (the aspiring magician) have his arm catch on fire, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid catch fire in a movie. Also, if a movie wants to stand out so much, they should make the girl go after the guy for a change. Do we have to do ALL the heavy lifting just because of our greater upper body strength, ladies?

I had refused to allow myself to say this for a long time, but I like Justin Timberlake. *NSYNC was awful enough to make me hate him for a long time, but his appearances on SNL and Jimmy Fallon made me think he may be able to do some decent comedy. Friends with Benefit only supports that. He’s both charming and funny in this movie, and good-looking and naked enough that ladies and gays would be all over it. For the mens and other gays, Mila Kunis is hot. Real hot. And pretty damned funny to boot. She’s also charming and funny, and both actors put on a pretty good performance during the short-lived drama parts. The things they said to each other in the inevitable part where they get angry at each other would sting pretty badly in a real fight as well. Richard Jenkins doesn’t add much comedy as Timberlake’s father, but he adds some heart to his parts because of his advancing Alzheimer’s. On the exact opposite side, Patricia Clarkson doesn’t bring much drama, but brings plenty of humor as Kunis’ hippie mom. She’s almost as funny here as she was in Easy A. It’s not too much of a surprise that Jenna Elfman does some good funny in her short time in the movie. One of my favorite things she did seemed improvised, when they were having dinner and Timberlake and Jenkins were talking about sports, and Elfman was sitting to the side mumbling to herself “We get it, you guys like sports.” blah blah blah. Also not in the movie very long, but very enjoyable and original in his performance, was Woody Harrelson. He played a very masculine sports columnist, but he was also very, VERY gay. He talked with Timberlake in a way that most guys talk to each other in movies, but instead of pussy, he was all about the wang. The cameo performances are nice, but don’t really add much to the movie.

I can thoroughly recommend this movie to you guys. I got it from RedBox, so it didn’t cost me very much money to watch this, and I don’t really feel the need to go out and buy it immediately, but I will probably add it to my collection eventually. I think you’d do well to put it on your Netflix queue or your RedBox reserve. Guys have Kunis, Girls have Timberlake, and both get a good amount of funny and an interesting enough story, with pretty good performances throughout. If you’re only going to see one of the plethora of “friend fucking movies”, I recommend this one. Friends with Benefits gets “Your breasts. They intrigue me” out of “I can work with that”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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