Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Friends with Benefits

Friends with Benefits; romantic comedy, USA, 2011; D: Will Gluck, S: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Woody Harrelson, Richard Jenkins, Jenna Elfman, Jason Segal, Emma Stone

After Jamie, the Executive Recruiter for the GQ magazine, manages to hire Dylan as the new art director and resettle him to New York, they both find out they just recently broke up from unhappy relationships. As an experiment, they decide to make a pact: to have sex whenever they want, but just stay friends, not boyfriend and girlfriend. At first, it works, yet when Jamie goes to visit Dylan's family in Los Angeles, she falls in love with him. He does not register that and turns accidentally insensitive towards her, which causes an animosity between them. However, they make up in the end.

"Friends with Benefits" is a too light, too fast, too dynamic romantic comedy overburdened with excessive babble, but charming thanks to various satirical jabs at cliches of the romantic comedy genre and, especially, refreshingly untrammelled performances by its two leads actors, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Snappy dialogues give the story - about a guy and a girl who want to have an exclusively sexual relationship until it also gets an emotional and spiritual one - the most sparks: for instance, after Dylan arrives in New York for the first time in his life, pondering over whether or not he should work here, Jamie gives him a grand day out by presenting him with a "flash mob", i.e. hundreds of people who suddenly start a public performance on the streets of Times Square, choreographing a mass dance. Dylan is so impressed that he decides to accept the offer and indeed live in New York, upon which Jamie jokingly says: "OK, you may all go home now!", which coincidences with the mob leaving the street. In another comical moment, Jamie mentions to Dylan how he read the L.A. Times for 23 years, which causes another funny dialogue exchange (Dylan: "Wow. You know so much about me. Someone made her homework." - Jamie: "Yeah, I have this thing in my office...It's called Google."). Only in the last quarter does the movie slow down and give room for the situation in which the characters found themselves in to 'sink in' and for the viewers to absorb the mood, though it does turn melodramatic towards the end (and fall itself into some romantic comedy cliches), yet the wit and supporting performances by Woody Harrelson and Jenna Elfman manage to assure a good fun.


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