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Friends With Benefits

By AARON MESH
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.
 
  • Genres: Romantic comedy
  • Running Time: 104 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, July 22, 2011
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: R [ Language, Sexual Content ]
  • Critic's Score: 75
  • Starring: Justin Timberlake [Dylan], Mila Kunis [Jamie], Patricia Clarkson [Lorna], Jenna Elfman [Annie], Bryan Greenberg [Parker], Richard Jenkins [Mr. Harper], Woody Harrelson [Tommy], Nolan Gould [Sam], Andy Samberg [Quincy], Shaun White [Himself], Emma Stone [Kayla], Lili Mirojnick [Laura]
  • Directed by: Will Gluck [Director], Keith Merryman [Screenwriter], David Newman [Screenwriter], Will Gluck [Screenwriter], Martin Shafer [Producer], Liz Glotzer [Producer], Jerry Zucker [Producer], Janet Zucker [Producer], Will Gluck [Producer], Glenn S. Gainor [Executive Producer], Michael Grady [Cinematographer], Marcia Hinds [Production Design], Tia Nolan [Film Editor], Lisa Katz [Casting], Renee Kalfus [Costume Designer], Bo Johnson [Art Director], Cindy Coburn [Set Decoration]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer
 

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