It is very hard to stand out in the world of romantic comedies, what with all the predictable storylines and the sentimental froth that has become synonymous with the genre. But there seems to be something about the recently released Friends With Benefits that makes you wonder if there aren’t a few more love triangles and airport happy endings worth squeezing out of the genre.
Jamie (Mila Kunis) and Dylan (Justin Timberlake) are fresh out of relationships and are brought together by their jobs. Jamie and Dylan discover that they share a common frustration: they aren’t able to have sex without it having complicated (and disastrous) results. They decide to go against the grain and explore the tricky “friends with benefits” arrangement and – as all rom-com lovers expect (possible spoiler) – they end up falling in love with each other and spend the remaining hour of the movie battling to stay faithful to their no-emotions agreement.
Eyebrows were raised concerning the similarity between the plot of Friends With Benefits and that of No Strings Attached (released earlier this year) but it’s safe to say that the similarity is only superficial. As a whole, Friends With Benefits did what No Strings Attached was meant to do, but pithier and with a better cast. The chemistry between Timberlake and Kunis does not feel forced and you find yourself rooting for them from the moment they meet at a luggage conveyor belt. The movie is relatively easy to digest with plenty of charming moments, like the oath taken over an iPad Bible app and pretty much any scene involving Jamie’s mother (played by Patricia Clarkson).
Friends With Benefits does have its share of frustrating parts, like the awkward promotion of Sony Ericsson cellphones and all the lines Shaun White delivers. The story also seems to struggle a bit in the middle, relying on cheap sexual humour to drive it to its climax (pardon the pun). Do not be discouraged, however – cameo appearances by Emma Stone, Andy Samberg, Jason Segel and Rashida Jones lend enough help to make this worth the price of a movie ticket. Also, there are flash mobs. No one hates flash mobs.