Guilty pleasure lists will have to be re-written after No Strings Attached.
Guilty pleasure lists will have to be re-written after No Strings Attached. Just sassy and witty enough to be enjoyable in places, with plenty enough rehashed romcom tropes to make Matthew McConaughey blush.
Two friends, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) agree to have sex with each other whenever either is in the mood, so long as they don't get bogged down in the complications of a formal relationship.
It’s two extremely attractive people locked in sweaty passion for a large portion of the film. There’s half the cinema filled already. All that’s required from that point is to pad it with enough decent gags and a few extra plot points to stretch it out to 90 minutes. Which it manages rather successfully.
Director Ivan Reitman has got an impressive history in oddball comedy, and his slightly offbeat sense of humour not only rescues No Strings Attached from being lumbered on the lurid romcom pile, but makes it marvellously enjoyable to watch.
There are of course certain nauseating romcom standards: somehow the two are destined for each other and pushed together by their quirky, less pretty friends, something hammy called a 'British accent' makes an appearance, and the blokes are either jocks, nerds or gay.
From the age of 13, Emma and Adam's paths repeatedly cross until, worn down by fate, they make their sticky pact. Tender-hearted Adam is still pining for his ex-girlfriend while Emma, rebelling against her mother’s dependencies, is determined not to get emotionally caught up in a relationship. Their idyllic plan disintegrates when Adam’s emotions get the better of him and he falls for Emma. Emotional turmoil and inner searching ensues on both sides until they come to realise their fate.
Kevin Kline is charmingly funny as Kutcher’s philandering, pot-smoking dad. Not only does his cult status as a former actor haunt Adam’s own steps into television, but he causes a significant rift when he moves in with Adam’s ex-girlfriend.
For better or worse, actors always carry a residual of past roles round with them. Natalie Portman wears her Black Swan persona like a halo, which, though not intrinsically part of the film, emphasises its counter instinctive allure.
Looks like we’re set for one hell of a ride...
It’s a romcom, but not as we know it.
How many Ashton Kutcher films have you emerged smiling from?