Director: Will Gluck
Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Patricia Clarkson, Woody Harrelson
Running Time: 109 minutes
DVD Release Date: December 16 2011
Jamie (Kunis) is a corporate head hunter (she prefers Executive Recruiter) trying to recruit Dylan (Timberlake) from his small yet successful, Los Angeles based internet blog to Art Director of GQ magazine in New York City.
The two become fast friends. As the title suggests, they quickly embark on a sex only, physical relationship, all the while vowing, via a funny ipad bible app scene no less, to remain friends no matter what.
‘No relationship….no emotions….just sex. Whatever happens….. we stay friends’
Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that….
The movie starts at a cracking pace and does not let up for the first 45 minutes or so. The dialogue is quick, witty and intelligent. The chemistry between Kunis and Timberlake is believable. There are many references to Hollywood romantic movies and actors are named and shamed for their part in perpetuating the notion of an idealised true love. Oh yes…..an anti-rom com movie. Loving it!
There are some genuinely hilarious moments and when the pair has their first sexual encounter, the results are unexpectedly funny. Much of the humour comes from the fact that, as this is just ‘a sex thing’, they feel no need for the subtle niceties usually employed during intimate moments with a new lover.
The do and don’t lists Jamie and Dylan both sprout off are laugh out loud funny because they are so very true. He leaves his socks on, she doesn’t bother to shave her legs. They banter back and forth poking fun at romantic sex. As their affair continues, the dialogue and scenes become more intimate but no less entertaining.
At around this time, Jamie’s mother enters the scene. She is a loving yet free-spirited woman played perfectly by the divine Patricia Clarkson. The mother-daughter interactions are among the most delightful moments of the entire movie. This is saying something as this movie boasts quite the talented cast with the likes of Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson and Richard Jenkins, among other familiar faces, joining Clarkson in small but memorable cameo roles.
When Jamie announces she is ready to start dating again, the movie slows down a little and you get to take an almost welcome breath. We start to see the genuine friendship that has developed between the pair and the characters get fleshed out a little more. Jamie meets Dylan’s family as his backstory is slowly revealed. The reality of a friends with benefits situation starts to put strain on the relationship.
I wait for the movie to kick back into top gear but the movie has lost it’s focus. The momentum is gone and is never quite regained. It turns into just another romantic Hollywood movie. Yes, the characters are more rounded and yes the plot thickens and yes we get to see heartfelt emotions but at a price. There are still some good, fun moments but as the story takes it’s inevitable turn for the more serious, the spark and wit evident through the first half of the movie is lacking.
I have to say, Timberlake is an adequate enough actor (with more experience and training, I am sure we will see better work from him) but playing opposite the talented Kunis, he pales in comparison. He has very good moments but then he has moments where I would swear he is reading off cue cards. His character really begins to grate on my nerves. He becomes needlessly nasty and, for want of a better word, a little dense. This does not seem in keeping with the Dylan we have come to know. In my opinion, it is a major flaw of the movie. Perhaps another actor could have played Dylan with the depth needed to move the character successfully through the murky emotional waters he finds himself in.
I was keen to see this movie because Director Will Gluck’s previous venture was the clever and oh-so-hip Easy A……. but I guess nobody can get it 100% right, 100% of the time.
Overall, the movie starts with a bang but loses its way. Kunis, who I have been a fan of since her That 70’s Show days is wonderful throughout, let down only by the material she has to work with. Having said that, this movie is well worth a look…it is just not the smart and sassy movie it wants to be.
Trivia: The Bible App is actually ‘Take an Oath’ available through itunes or from www.take-an-oath.com. The app lets you record an audio oath on a bible of your choice.