"No Strings Attached"

"No Strings Attached" is one of two movies coming out this year that look very similar to each other. The second, "Friends with Benefits," arrives in late July, and stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. Personally, I thought Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher would make the better pair in "No Strings Attached", and they did have good chemistry; however, the film started off strong and then dwindled off until the laughs were no longer as funny.

Normally, it's the girl in the relationship who might be clingy. In the case of Adam (Ashton Kutcher, "Killers") and Emma (Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"), who first meet as teenagers at summer camp, it is actually Adam who wants to move things further. They agree at the beginning of the film, however, to be "sex friends," or "friends with benefits." Emma works 80 hours a week as a resident at a nearby hospital, so she doesn't have time for such frivolities as relationships - or so she says. Adam is an assistant on a major TV show, and is constantly living in the shadow of his father, a former hit TV star who is still recognized on the street today. So the arrangement is perfect for both of them - right? It is at first, but then Adam starts wanting something more.

Portman and Kutcher have chemistry together, and the beginning of the film is hilarious - he gives her a balloon after they sleep together for the first time, which of course she and all of their friends think is weird ("Who are you, the old guy from 'Up'?" one of Kutcher's friends demands). Unfortunately, the laughs start to get fewer and farther between, and although I was never bored during the movie, the ending was very predictable. There are some good supporting actors in this movie as well - Kevin Kline ("The Conspirator") as Kutcher's father, Lake Bell (TV's "How to Make It in America") as a coworker of Kutcher's, and Greta Gerwig ("Greenberg") as a friend of Portman's - but unfortunately, they don't add much to the mix.

Maybe see this film. I can't say I didn't enjoy it, but I wish the second half of it had been as funny as the first. Ashton is his usual endearing self, and we see a different side of Portman (fresh off of "Black Swan") here, which is always refreshing, but the movie just didn't live up to my expectations based on the trailer. See this movie if you are looking for a mostly fluffy chick flick, but otherwise pick a different film to see.

"No Strings Attached" will be in theaters on January 21st.

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