"Oh man, not other one of those!" must be what might have ran through many skeptics' minds upon reading the title of Justin Timberlake's latest flick. Worse, the producers of Friends with Benefits may seem a tad too lazy to even think up of a more creative, less blatant title like No Strings Attached, and with less hot stars (think Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher). But hold your horses, this film might just surprise you.
Young, arrogant art director Dylan (Justin Timberlake) gets romantically involved with sexy New York headhunter Jamie (Mila Kunis). But finding long-term relationships too tiring and bothersome, the two go for sex with no strings attached, emotional or not. The terms for their relationship? Demands can be made on sexually but not emotionally. Within minutes into the film though, and judging from the impromptu fun flash mob performance Jamie brings Dylan through, it is clear to all that the two are meant for each other and ultimately would end up as expected.
Sounds like a disastrous crude movie all about sex? Not quite so actually.
What makes this film work is the great chemistry between the two lead characters as well as the excellent cast. Kunis's sassiness and sexiness with Timberlake's easy-going yet charming personality; Woody Harrelson as a hilariously happily gay sports editor of GQ; Patricia Clarkson as Jamie's overaged, foul-mouthed hippie mom; and Richard Jenkins as a smart man cursed with Alzheimer's who attempts to leave his son with some wise advice before he loses himself.
What makes this work, too, is also the script by Keith Merryman, David A. Newman and director Will Gluck, wittily filled with brilliant pop culture references and actually engaging conversations between the two.
Downsides, as there always will be, include Dylan's sick dad (Richard Jenkins) who keeps removing his pants in public – a seriously lame attempt for some laughs. Our verdict? Friends with Benefits is film worthy of your ticket price – and way much more succinct, clear as well as enjoyable than No Strings Attached, which was aired within the same year.