Sunday 11 March 2012

Friends with Benefits (2011) - Will Gluck

Timberlake's done alright for himself really.  From Britney's mate in the Disney Club, to N'Sync, solo popstar and an actor with supporting role in the award winning film The Social Network.  And now he's headlining with Mila Kunis.  All with little acting talent, a high-pitched nasal voice and some decent moves on the dancefloor. 

His character in Friends with Benefits, Dylan, is a bit of a damp nonentity and Timberlake takes Dylan's "emotional unavailability" (read: dullness) to heart to the detriment of characterisataion.  It's hard to see what Mila Kunis's Jamie sees in him, despite his totally freakin' awesome cheesy smile.  Kunis, sexy as ever, plays the tomboy well with sarcasm and dry humour.  The screen is stolen though by Woody Harrelson as Dylan's gay friend, providing the voice of truth amongst the snappy one-liners.

But what of the narrative?  Jamie and Dylan meet when she, a headhunter, finds him, a West coast magazine art director, a job in New York working for GQ.  They begin (rather suddenly) as just friends but decide to help each other out sexually after their failed past relationships.  Of course, this is (predictably) easier said than done.  It's a film filled with clichés - the ending, East coast versus West coast ideals and its attempts at making rom-com stereotypes seem ironic when Friends with Benefits is itself a standard rom-com.  The false script is unrealistic and tries too hard to be funny.  Then, two thirds through, we're introduced to Dylan's father suffering with Alzheimers - a cheap method of creating an emotional crux besides the friendly chemistry between the leads. 

Despite relying on the Hollywood conventions it sets out to confound, it's a cheery enough film that will entertain - at least for the sexy leads.