July 23rd, 2011 | by AP Kryza, Aaron Mesh Movies & Television |

Summer Love: Friends With Benefits and Captain America Reviewed

kunisMila Kunis and Justin Timberlake - Sony Pictures

Neither Captain America: The First Avenger nor Friends With Benefits were screened by WW press deadlines. Neither are anything to be ashamed of—they'd each be good matinee fare today. Stop being so self-conscious, Hollywood! Show us your junk!

Captain America: The First Avenger
[70] Patriot, super-soldier and the most violent Ultimate Frisbee player in history, Captain America finally gets the proper big screen treatment after nearly 70 years with Captain America: The First Avenger, an obligatory origin story and extended commercial for next year’s The Avengers. With Chris Evans (previously the only watchable part of Marvel’s failed Fantastic Four) sporting red-white-and-blue tights as wimp-turned WWII icon Steve Rogers, First Avenger is exactly what Cap should be: an old-fashioned Nazi beat-em-up wherein the genetically modified hero two-fistedly pursues the maniacal Red Skull (an appropriately menacing Hugo Weaving) and his army of laser-gun-wielding Gestapo, whacking heads with his invincible shield, blowing shit up on his motorcycle and romancing Brit agent/bombshell Hayley Atwell. Hack director (and George Lucas protégé) Joe Johnston reverts to Rocketeer mode to craft a gee-whiz actioner with nods to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Evans spits one-liners with gusto, showing comic charm in a cheeky sequence that plays to Cap’s jingoist origins as a propaganda puppet on the USO circuit. Sure, the action’s as generic as its hero (and the ending is a rushed mess), but that’s just what Captain America needs to be: a fun piece of mindless escapism full of explosions and Nazi killin’ that earns its “Made in America” stamp by forgoing serious storytelling in favor of chest-thumping Neanderthal gestures and straightforward patriotic charm. AP KRYZA. PG-13. Click here for showtimes.

Friends With Benefits
[75] The first question most casual moviegoers will have about Mila Kunis' fuck-buddy comedy is how it compares to Natalie Portman's fuck-buddy comedy No Strings Attached. (It's a little better, just as Kunis' performance in Black Swan was a little better, though both movies are pleasant surprises.) But Friends With Benefits sets higher standards for itself, and should be judged against them. Director Will Gluck, who proved with Easy A that he has the touch for brittle, innuendo-laced patter, sets up this movie as a subversion of every Hollywood romantic shortcut—but as sexual frankness goes, this is less Last Tango in Paris than a smutty but ultimately conventional pre-Code gadget. The most intriguing aspect is Justin Timberlake's lead performance, which includes him crooning Kris Kross and Semisonic, but also cleverly plants notes of boy-toy submissiveness (he'll let you whip him if he misbehaves). Kunis uses her trademark sultry-panda eyes as a fine match, and the movie rises to the occasion more often than not, erecting something very close to a perceptive study of distant, self-protecting urbanites. It's possible to completely forget how conventional it is, especially when Richard Jenkins in onscreen as Timberlake's Alzheimer's-stricken father. Like the movie, the role is manipulative, but fiercely played. AARON MESH. R. Click here for showtimes.


 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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