Seems 2011 is shaping up to be the year Hollywood got the horn.
First there was Love And Other Drugs, which saw Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway at it like rabbits. Coming up is Friends With Benefits, with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake getting it on.
Now, sandwiched between the two, we have No Strings Attached – Ivan Reitman’s raunchy romcom that puts Natalie Portman in bed with Ashton Kutcher for emotion-free fun.
Question is, can they keep it up without falling for each other? Predictably, it’s less a case of ‘if’ than ‘when’…
Despite the film’s provocative concept and early promise, Reitman sticks pretty closely to the genre rules.
True, screenwriter Elizabeth Meriwether tries to challenge tradition by pitching Portman’s relationship-fearing doc as the commitment-phobe, but there’s never any doubt she’ll back down and realise the error of her ways.
Still, despite the chick-flick trappings, there’s plenty to enjoy. For starters, Kutcher turns in a mercifully (and unexpectedly) dialled-down performance that even evokes a sniff of empathy.
Then there’s the colourful support cast – among them Lake Bell’s workaholic producer, Ophelia Lovibond’s dim-witted golddigger and Kevin Kline’s pot-smoking pop – and the script’s suitably crude zingers (“it’s like there’s a crime scene in my pants!” exclaims Greta Gerwig’s time-of-the-month-addled gal-pal).
But the film’s real ace is Portman, who flexes superior comic timing while striking up a surprisingly heated chemistry with her onscreen fuck buddy.
Good job, really – for a film that explores the appeal of casual sex, two hours’ worth of bored bonking just wouldn’t have cut it…