Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rath's Reviews: Friends With Benefits

Last review I stated that comedy previews worried me especially when they dont change much over time...it usually indicates that every funny part is in that short 2-3 minute clip. Sadly, Im afraid, Friends With Benefits falls mostly under this category (there are a few exceptions, especially a couple well-timed Harry-Potter-is-gay jokes). But overall, all the funniest parts of the movie I had already seen numerous times. In addition, all of the attempts to be funny in the first 30 minutes of the movie mostly fall flat on their face, creating an awkward theater where people know that something funny was just said, but arent laughing. I will admit though that there are a few gems scattered throughout the movie, and after the awkward beginning, the jokes do get funny...but not that funny. Woody Harrelson provides the films strongest laughs as the gay sports article writer for GQ, but even his questioning of Justin Timberlake's character's (Dylan) sexuality gets kinda old.

"Of course I have a boat. I live in Jersey and I ain't taking no ferry...unless its out to dinner and a show! Boom!"
A funny line that I had unfortunately already seen in the trailer
Despite the average comedy, the film does get one thing right...sooooo right. It feels just so real. I dont really know how to explain it, it still is clearly a movie and has tons of cliches, but just the way that the characters interact with each other is real. The script is real, the plot is real...it just feels like something that I could see actual people experiencing. This is due in part to the chemistry between Justin Timberlake and the semi-goddess Mila Kunis. They feel like they are really just friends at the beginning, and pull off the just-friends-having-sex act perfectly. But then after they actually make love and not sex, and then get into a fight they feel like a, and Im going to use this word again, real couple. They talk about real things when they are together and dont just use playful banter for and hour and a half. They genuinely care about each other, and the fact that you can tell that on screen makes it the movie's strongest plus.

Laughter = good chemistry
The second part I enjoyed about the movie is the love advice given throughout. There are so many times in these types of movies where the advice is "chase the one you love", "do anything for her", "win her back" and in part, these are the same ideals that this movie is pushing. But the difference is who the advice comes from. First off, Woody Harrelson has what I found to be the most important line in the film, and as a nearly-done-college student, it really drives home the point of what exactly needs to be looked for in a human. He says, "It's not about who you want to spend a Friday night with man, it's about who you want to spend all day Saturday with." Ill let you interpret that how you may. I took it not just as a lust vs. love quote but also a quote about who you can stand moment-after-moment, not just who you want to be seen with. Near the end of the movie however, there is a scene with Dylan and his father which really tells you how to live your love life. But first a little backstory. In the movie, Dylan's dad has pretty severe case of Alzheimer's disease. He doesn't remember sometimes why his wife left him 10 years ago, and confuses a lot of people with those from his past. To make a long story short, he thinks he recognizes someone in the airport and when Dylan asks who he thought that was, he replies with "The love of my life". The father, in a moment of clarity, explains how he let "The One" get away...a typical line in these movies. But then he gets mad with himself, explaining how life is short and how, "this...this!" (Referring to his debilitating Alzheimer's by angrily motioning to his head) has really made him realize just how "God damn short life really is." At least for me, to see a man near the end of his life reflecting back on the biggest regret of his life when he can hardly remember where he is, was pretty powerful and it spoke to me. Sure we are always told to "chase That One we love", but how many of us really do it? How many people have really gone and talked to that person who takes your breath away? Food for thought I guess. 

Pointing = good chemistry?

There will undoubtedly be comparisons between this movie and No Strings Attached which stars Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in basically the same scenario. Honestly, I was entertained more by No Strings Attached. I found that movie absolutely hilarious from basically beginning to end. But that movie wasn't real. It was obviously characters acting on a screen, hooking up, and going on with their lives. So...that leaves us with one being funnier than the other, in which case No Strings Attached > Friends With Benefits (look at my nerdy engineering symbols coming out...) and one being more realistic about love than the other one: Friends With Benefits > No Strings Attached.

I guess you could say that if you want a movie for a Friday night, go with No Strings Attached, and if you want a movie all day Saturday, go with Friends With Benefits.


  • Great chemistry between Mila and Justin
  • Woody Harrelson and Richard Jenkins (Timberlake's father) excel in their roles as love-advice-givers
  • Just feels real, especially character interactions throughout the different levels of relationship
  • Love advice that, while cliched, makes you think
  • A few funny jokes and one liners
  • Most funny parts were in the previews
  • Jokes in the beginning fall flat, creating an awkward theater
  • Among all the of the real-feeling characters, Jamie's (Mila Kunis) mom (Patricia Clarkson) seems outlandish and kind of unnecessary
  • Still has the typical romantic cliches...seriously Hollywood, when are we going to make some iconic romantic-movie scenes? I feel like they were all in the 80s, Titanic and The Notebook aside of course
  • Truthfully, No Strings Attached is more enjoyable, and way funnier

Rath's Review Score: 6.5/10 

Just a little side note: I will be in New Zealand from September 1st-September 11th meaning no blog posts for about a week and half or so. So...take a break from my blog, I know its hard, but shut down your computer and go outside! Its nice out! And when I get back I will have tons of adventures to share! See you in a bit!

1 comment:

  1. Jordan Rath-you amuse me. I liked NSA better as well, although I love Mila Kunis and JT together.


    ps-you should come visit me girly, fashion blog.

    Erin @ http://www.trufflesnruffles.com/