“No Strings Attached” Movie Review


     Ivan Reitman returns to the director's chair with "No Strings Attached"', a standard yet effective and entertaining romantic comedy.  The film stars Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in a story about two friends who decide to become "sex buddies" while refraining from the draw backs of an actual relationship.  Can they keep this up without falling for each other? That's the basic premise and the couple is surrounded by an excellent supporting cast and a number of funny sub plots. For once, this is one film where the trailer doesn't spoil the best and funniest parts.

     As the film started, I was met by initial disappointment during several flashback scenes.  The set up for the story to come is a little lame and seems forced. Emma (Portman) and Adam (Kutcher) first meet at a summer camp as teens where Emma first admits her inability to be affectionate and Adam asks Emma "Can I finger you?". Really don't know what that strange scene was about, but then the film fast forwards to their college years.  Adam is seen whooping it up at a frat party and Emma shows up out of her element and over dressed for the occasion.  Not sure what purpose this scene serves either.  No matter because once we get to present day, the entire cast becomes funny and extremely likable.

     Emma is now completing her residency as a doctor and doesn't have time for much of anything.  Adam is an assistant on the set of a TV sit com, hoping one day to become a staff writer.  After finding out his father is currently dating his ex girlfriend, Adam goes on a drinking binge and wakes up to find himself in Emma's apartment on the couch and naked.  This is where we are first introduced to Emma's roommates and where the film really catches fire.  The aforementioned father is played by Kevin Kline, he himself a former sit com star.  To say the least his and Adam's relationship is strained and the fact he is dating his ex makes it worse.  Emma is there to catch Adam, but she makes it clear she has no time for a relationship.  After having sex once, they decide to have an exclusive sexual relationship.  "Every man's dream" as one of Adam's buddies puts it.

     By this time, you see where this is going.  Adam seems to fall for Emma first and begins to do things only boyfriends would do. He brings her balloons, makes her a mix CD, and even attempts to spoon with her in bed, with their clothes on "which makes it even worse!". Slowly, Emma begins to exhibit the same behavior, but she remains strong thus creating the struggle that provides the majority of the film's laughs.  As you would expect, there are several factors working against this couple aside from the obvious.  There's the doctor working along side Emma 18 hours a day who is courting her at work.  There's the dumb blonde working alongside Adam on the sit com set pining for her opportunity.  Each of these issues play themselves out, but can anything stand in the way of true love? Not in the movies anyway.

     Ashton Kutcher has not shown a good track record for his acting ability, but I have to say he seems to fit in here.  There seems to be a decent chemistry with Portman and together they form a likable duo.  I think what really saves this from becoming your typical romantic comedy is the presence of a good script.  It seems that all of the characters have consistently funny things to say and this makes nearly every scene enjoyable.  There's even a little Asian kid running around the sit com set showing people pictures he's taken of his private parts on a cell phone.  Don't know why, but his timely appearances are subtle yet effective touches to what is a surprisingly satisfying film. 

GRADE: B-