Friends With Benefits, is actually my favorite romantic comedy of the year. Yeah, I said it. They did it!
I went in wanting to hate this. Seriously, from the previews how were they going to sell me on two hot people having a hard time finding someone to have sex with them? Really, people that look like Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake are having a hard time finding someone to hook up with them? Cry me a frigging river. Thankfully, that's not the actual plot of this movie, but that's what the previews made it look like.
I know this will draw comparisons to No Strings Attached, but let me stop that now. Friends With Benefits, is better in almost every way. Apparently, both of these movies were actually made at the same time, but they decided to release Friends With Benefits later in the year. Smart decision, as this is clearly the better movie.
If you can make me laugh out loud when I'm not expecting to, then you've already won me. Friends With Benefits did that here. I was surprised at how funny this was. It's actually kind of raunchy in parts, which I just wasn't expecting, but it was a welcome surprise.
There's not a helluva lot to the plot, so I'm not even going to get into that here. It's pretty standard romantic comedy stuff. In fact, I'll give you one guess as to how it ends...
(...do you need a hint?)
I'll just talk about what I like. Here it is:
One of the things I really liked here is that neither of the main characters had that stereotypical group of friends that follows them around, like you saw in No Strings Attached or Going the Distance. This made the movie much easier for me to relate to. When it comes to my dating life, I feel like I'm flying solo most of the time. I don't have a quirky group of friends always willing to be my wingmen. As much as I'd like that, it's not the case. Anyway...
Woody Harrelson is great as an over-the-top gay sports writer. He's probably the only thing close to the bullshit friends from other romantic comedies. He's used well here though, so it didn't feel like it was too much.
Richard Jenkins as Justin's Dad is also good here. He usually good in any movie he's in. Here he teeters the line between funny and emotional. That's all I'll say.
Even Jenna Elfman has a nice role here, which I found kind of a shock cause they take a shot at Scientology in the movie and she's a known worshiper of Xenu. Maybe that changed.
Sure, this is a little cliched at points. Actually, this movie pokes fun of the whole genre in a very meta-sense, which makes me forgive that (at one point Kunis' character even gives a f-you to Katherine Heigl. Bravo!). In a way, it's a total setup, because you know what's coming at the end. Still, you don't mind and actually would have been mad if it ended any other way.
This movie gets by on it's charm and the chemistry of Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Oh man, does the chemistry pop between those two. If they had cast this differently, it just wouldn't have worked. You know, I never thought I'd say this, but I think Timberlake really does have a future in acting. Even after The Social Network, I thought he was a flash in the pan, but he pretty good. While there are scenes where he sings, it's only done for laughs. I was actually expecting them to run that into the ground and make it annoying, (like say...Jack Black) but again, they used that without making you roll your eyes at it.
I credit this to Will Gluck who also directed Easy A, which was my surprise fun movie of last Summer. It seems he has really figured out a formula that works and hopefully he can keep this up.
Anyway, I highly recommend seeing this. It's a great date movie.