Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Friends with Benefits (2011) [R] ****

Jamie (Mila Kunis) is a New York-based executive recruiter who convinces LA-based Dylan (Justin Timberlake) to take an editor's position at GQ magazine in NYC. As Dylan settles into the New York scene he realizes he doesn't know anyone in the city, and, inevitably he and Jamie become friends. Then, one evening, half-drunk, they admit to each other that neither one wants to be in an emotional relationship, but at the same time they both have sexual needs. So becoming friends with benefits is a perfect solution. Both Jamie and Dylan have emotional baggage: Jamie does not know who her father is, because her mother Lorna (Patricia Clarkson) is an aging hippie whose life seems to have been a series of one-night stands. Dylan's mother divorced his father a decade earlier, and Dylan's father (played by Richard Jenkins) is afflicted with Alzheimer's and is being cared for by Dylan's older sister Annie (Jenna Elfman). So both Jamie and Dylan are damaged and ill-equipped to handle an emotional relationship. Keeping the tone of the film light is Woody Harrelson, who is hilarious as GQ's gay sports editor, and who hopes Dylan is gay as well.

While the screenplay was smartly written, many of the film's most humorous scenes were created during filming by Kunis, Timberlake, Harrelson and director Will Gluck. There is terrific chemistry and comedic timing between Kunis and Timberlake, and one or both are on-screen for every frame of the film. Production values are excellent and the soundtrack, which consists entirely of previously written songs, is very good. The supporting cast is also excellent, especially Harrelson, Clarkson, Jenkins and Elfman. In addition, there's an audio commentary with Gluck, Timberlake and Kunis, and while it's clear that the cast had a lot of fun making this movie, the commentary, although amusing and entertaining, is only mildly educational. If you like Mila Kunis and/or Justin Timberlake, and you enjoyed No Strings Attached with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, then you will very likely enjoy Friends with Benefits. [Blogger's rating: **** out of 5 stars]

Labels: comedy, romance 
Internet Movie Database 
Metacritic 63/100 
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=62, viewers=72) 

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