I wonder how much time Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis spent spent chatting about future projects between takes on Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan?
Perhaps the two made a pact to make lightweight and sexy rom-coms following the no doubt emotionally intense experience of filming the psycho-sexual ballet freak out, for whether by coincidence or design, both actresses' next projects were to be films based on the concept of the fuck buddy. For Portman it was the earlier 2011 release, No Strings Attached, and for Kunis it was Friends With Benefits.
Kunsi plays Jamie, a New York headhunter who, having lured LA art director Dylan (Justin Timberlake) to NYC for a cushy job with GQ magazine, decides that the emotionally distant young man may be the perfect answer to her own relationship shortcomings. The two agree to become the titular friends with benefits aka fuck buddies; sex on demand without the emotional complications.
Of course that can never work, and certainly not in a mainstream Hollywood movie where consenting adults enjoying mutually beneficial sex without mention of the L-word is a no-no. His and hers orgasms can only go so far before the powers-that-be and rom-com conventions insist that love rears its ugly head ie sex without love is just not right!
But until that sad inevitability (one which also afflicted the less raunchy by comparison No Strings Attached), Friends With Benefits is an enjoyable enough romp. The first half of the film, directed by Will Gluck who made last year's comic delight, Easy A, has a cracking pace, beginning with our leads being dumped by their respective partners; Easy A star Emma Stone stealing the film in her all-too brief appearance, as does Patricia Clarkson later on as Kunis's atypical mother (much like she also did in Easy A).
As for Kunis and Timberlake, they make for an engaging pair although I'm yet to be convinced of Timberlake as an actor (The Social Network excepted). Then again, if he's going to be taking his shirt off as often as he does here, I could be persuaded otherwise (just don't speak!).