15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
At least ten times better than "No Strings Attached",
This review is from: Friends with Benefits (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + UltraViolet Digital Copy) (Blu-ray)
This has been a magical summer for movies. A lot of movies that I was really looking forward to, have turned out to be lousy. However, I've seen a lot of movies that I expected to be awful, but ended up being really good. Thus, "Friends With Benefits". Romantic comedies are always awful for me. I love them, but they make me feel like crap. The reason why this is, is because most of them are dishonest, and make you feel like only in the movies, things work out in love. "Friends With Benefits" is refreshingly honest, kind of sad, yet hopelessly optimistic. Its dialogue is fast and quick, kind of "Juno"-esque.
Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake are both coming off Oscar roles. Justin Timberlake was surprisingly good in "The Social Network", as was Kunis in "Black Swan". Maybe it was a fluke that both of them were so good in those movies, but this is the kind of movie they belong in. Their characters, Dylan and Jamie, have personalities, and characteristics that mesh with each other in a really awesome way, which doesn't come very often in romantic comedies.
The story, as for most romantic comedies, isn't surprising at all. It's two people who are coming out of bad relationships, who meet in a classic cute romantic comedy way, and decide that relationships don't work out, and to remain "friends with benefits", or friends who (constantly) have sex. As you could imagine, this doesn't work out the way they had hoped. There was a similar movie released this January, with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher called "No Strings Attached", which, clearly will be referenced in most, if not all reviews for "Friends With Benefits". I, admittedly, didn't hate that movie. But it's a piece of dreck compared to this one.
It's a typical hour-and-forty-five minute romantic comedy. However, it's kind of this generation's "When Harry Met Sally". It's "When Dylan Met Jamie". The two leads are so great with each other, one the yin to the other's yang. You can tell that they would be conceivable as a real couple. They aren't the perfect, immediately compatible couple that usually headlines a movie such as this. Justin Timberlake keeps proving that he's a better actor than a lot of pop stars. He's insanely likable in this movie. Mila Kunis had a smaller, haunting kind of role in "Black Swan", where I thought she was above average. She's really allowed to shine in this one, bringing life to a character that could have been much less. The attitude of this movie is sometimes gritty, always quick, witty, and urban. It makes good use of the time it's given. It acknowledges the ridiculous romantic comedies that it could have been. Jamie and her friend, at one point, walk by a poster for Katherine Heigl's "The Ugly Truth", and says "Shut up, Katherine Heigl! You stupid liar!". A fake in-movie-movie, with Rashida Jones and Jason Segel, is meant to emphasize how ridiculous most romantic comedies are. Great stuff.
Another thing this one has that "No Strings Attached" didn't have is a great supporting cast. Patricia Clarkson plays Jamie's mother, a hippie lush who is really damn funny. Woody Harrelson also does a good job as Dylan's unapologetically bold and hilarious gay boss. He gets kudos for not making a gay character a stereotype. Richard Jenkins plays Dylan's Alzheimer's stricken father, and Jenna Elfman plays his sister. They add to the quick and zippy feel of the movie. Cameos by Emma Stone and Andy Samberg are always welcome, too.
While some probably won't like this one as much as I did, I liked all of its characters. I felt like each character was well-developed and interesting. The quick writing is what makes it better than a lot of similar movies, but when everything in it is mashed together, the whole package is very good. I look forward to watching it again.