No Strings Attached

(2011)

Genres: Comedy, Romance

Review: No Strings Attached

Transcript for Review: No Strings Attached

CHRISTY:
Our first movie is the romantic comedy NO STRINGS ATTACHED. Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher star as what today's kids might call "friends with benefits." They can, basically, have sex whenever they want without all those complicated emotions getting in the way.



CLIP 1 – are we going to do this


CHRISTY V/O:

This all sounds well and good at first. Easy, fun. But then Kutcher finds himself kinda liking Portman, and eventually he realizes he might be in love with her. And that... would be a violation of the rules.



CLIP 2 - congratulations


CHRISTY V/O:

Once Portman starts sensing her own true feelings, she pushes Kutcher away in the age-old romantic comedy tradition. She has a bright idea: Why don't they have sex with other people? Now, Kutcher tries that with a clingy co-worker played by Lake Bell.


CLIP 4 – this is really happening


CHRISTY:

NO STRINGS ATTACHED is appealing for about the first half or so. It’s Rated R and has a nice little raunchy streak that I didn’t expect, and a strong supporting cast including Greta Gerwig, Mindy Kaling and Kevin Kline. But eventually the forced obstacles grow tiresome. Now, I know you have to have some problems in this kind of movie. I mean, something's got to keep our characters apart, just so they can eventually get back together again. But the movie has a whole mushy middle section in which we want them to get together, and the plot keeps stalling. It's directed by Ivan Reitman, who hasn't had a hit in a long time, and he doesn't have one here either. Thumbs down from me.

IGNATIY:
This film is much snappier and much more consistent than you’re giving it credit for being. It also has some fairly strong, kind of screwball undertones. And that’s part of what makes it work. Now I have to say I completely disagree with you about it.

CHRISTY:
No, it’s snappy, screwball off the top. The first half where they’re having sex all over the place, at various times of day – it’s very funny. I love that they just go for it. And I love that the Natalie Portman character, who is a woman, initiates this “let’s have sex all the time” pact, and not the man.

IGNATIY:
But at the same time, it’s not exclusively about those two characters, and that’s something else that I really like about the film, is that it makes very good use of its supporting cast, even though they’re often just, kind of, joke characters. There’s still, you know, Mindy Kaling; Greta Gerwig, is really great in it as Natalie Portman’s kind of best friend. I think pretty much everyone, except for, maybe, Kevin Kline –

CHRISTY:
Yeah, that is the weak link here.

IGNATIY:
--Who’s kind of a tired – He is, I will admit, I mean, this is not a great film. But as a – you know, this is a fairly ordinary, 2000s style romantic comedy – as an example of its genre, I think it’s very good.

CHRISTY:
It grinds to a halt, and the whole Kevin Kline character is a huge distraction. He’s supposed to be Ashton Kutcher’s dad, he’s this TV star, and all the pop culture references with him, like he’s into Little Wayne –

IGNATIY:
What’s wrong with putting pop culture references into a movie?

CHRISTY:
It felt – not with putting them in, but he – it felt forced on him. He’s like this 60-something guy, dating young girls, and it felt like a cliché and it felt very forced to me.

IGNATIY:
 
Well, you know, it’s a romantic comedy, there’s obviously an element of mechanics to it. Certain things are going to be forced. But at the same time, the interplay between many of the leads is very natural. Um, I like the chemistry between Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman.

CHRISTY:
It’s fun at first. It’s fun for a little while.

IGNATIY:
It’s fun at first? You think it’s no longer fun between them later --

CHRISTY:
And she –

IGNATIY:
-- once it becomes clear that this is a romantic comedy?

CHRISTY:
No, she has some charm to her, like you’ve seen in GARDEN STATE, or in, like BEAUTIFUL GIRL –

IGNATIY:
Oh, I don’t think she has any charm in GARDEN STATE. Oh, she’s horrifying in GARDEN STATE.

CHRISTY:
Very different from BLACK SWAN, though. Well agree on that.

IGNATIY:
Very differ -- We’ll both agree that it’s very different from BLACK SWAN. We’ve talked about Portman, what do you think of Kutcher’s character?

CHRISTY:
He’s fine. He’s the same guy in everything all the time. He never changes. He’s goofy and puppy-dog-ish. He’s the same guy all the time. Here he works on some GLEE-type show – I want to see something different from Ashton Kutcher.

IGNATIY:
Then you should watch SPREAD.

CHRISTY:
(Laughs)