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Movie Review: No Strings Attached by CinemaScavarda

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Peer pressure and/or curiosity is a strange thing. You see, I really don't like rom/coms. The vast majority of them are fluffy, silly, divorced from all reality, overly lit, non-funny pastiches.

So, when my friends were twitter-raving over “No Strings Attached”, I rolled my eyes. For heaven's sake, it stars Ashton Kutcher. It's a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes. I'd read the super critics' reviews and they were not particularly kind. When the gang started to go see it a second time, the curiosity/peer pressure thing kicked in. I had to see it for myself. I was sure the friends were delusional, living in a dream world where the guy must get the girl.

Au contraire - the gang is right about this movie; it's hilarious, not too sappy or cloying and has a number of characters who bring the fun. “No Strings Attached” is an entertaining couple of hours of movie watching.

The aforementioned Mr. Kutcher plays Adam and Natalie Portman is Emma. They first meet as young teens at summer camp. (For some reason, kids are allowed to make out in public at this summer camp. Huh?) Then they meet again a few times, briefly, but it's clear that Adam likes Emma and Emma doesn't dislike Adam.

Swing to 'present' day in Los Angeles, Adam works as a PA on a Glee-like tv show with screenwriter aspirations and Emma is a doctor. Adam drinks himself into oblivion and ends up on the couch at Emma's apartment. The undercurrent of “I like your form” between the two erupts into two minutes of hot sex. And we are off. Emma would like a sex friends deal, no strings, no cuddling, no dates. Adam is a guy so he goes along.

The leads bring enough charm to carry the story. Ashton Kutcher will never be accused of great theatrical talent by me but he employs a breezy, decent guy appeal that works here. Portman is about one week away from likely snagging her first Oscar for “Black Swan”; it's nice to see her portray smart, sweet but confused (instead of crazy).

For me, the supporting cast contributes the win for this film. Adam's dad, played by Kevin Kline, is an aging manchild tv star who has taken up with Adam's ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Ophelia Lovibond, whose comic timing reminds me of Isla Fisher). It's great to see Kevin Kline. He has some great material as the overly rich, very spoiled star and even a scene where he sings and plays piano. That's worth the price of admission right there. (Note to producers – when you have an Oscar winning comedian in your cast, you might want to include him in your advertising material. That might get a few of us non-rom/com folks to consider paying to see your film.)

The gang of friends on both of the leads' sides are winning and most importantly, funny. Adam's friends, Chris (Ludacris) and Eli (Jake Johnson), are lighthearted in their scenes with Adam and, for the most part, give him decent advice. Emma's friends, Patrice (Greta Garwig), Shira (Mindy Kaling), Guy (Guy Branum) and Katie (Oliva Thirlby), also contribute a breezy fun to the proceedings with a cupcake eating scene tossed in for good measure. Of special note is the great turn by Lake Bell as Lucy, the tv show producer who is the Type A, talks too much character. This character is typically written as a negative, maybe even a shrew. But Lucy isn't dissed in this movie; she's a hard working woman who does a nice thing for Adam. Cary Elwes as Dr. Metzner (didn't even recognize him truthfully) actually doesn't cross a professional boundary line which may just be a first for a rom/com where misbehavior is way too prevalent.

What I found particularly refreshing, neither Adam or Emma is an overly damaged soul or a harridan, another popular Hollywood rom/com trope. Adam has kind of a crappy dad but Adam has a job, works hard, strives to reach his screenwriting goal. Emma doesn't want a relationship but she isn't bitchy or playing hard to get. They both have to grow and the script does a decent job of showing that. Also, the script avoids the “huge misunderstanding” that usually happens at the end of Act 2, which is cloying and way too damn popular in the genre.

The movie has a simple premise, Emma doesn't want 'serious' and, when things evolve to that point, she runs for the hills. The script works within that storyline, adds great lines, nice turns from the leads, an engaging supporting cast and no sticky sweet moments.

Hollywood Rom/Com Producers – Please Take Note!

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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