Friends With Benefits

Director: Will Gluck
Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake
Runtime: 109 mins
Rating: ***

We all know how the generic romantic comedy will play out on screen: there is really no surprise to those stories any longer. But it would seem that maybe as a response to this, and indeed our changing views of romance, that Hollywood’s new favourite relationship is that of friends who have sexual relations with each other but don’t date. After all, Friends with Benefits has come to our screens not long after the No Strings Attached, concerning itself with the same subject and in actual fact seeming to follow an almost identical plot.

We simultaneously meet Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) as their separate long-term relationships come to an end in different cities. Through Jamie’s job as a head-hunter she and Dylan are brought together, as she is landed with the task of persuading him to leave Los Angeles for the opportunity to work for GQ in New York City. Dylan decides to take the job and in his new position the pair become good friends. After their previous setbacks they have become reluctant to enter into relationships, and together as close friends decide to have sex without all the emotions and commitments that come with being in a relationship.

The film itself, although in some ways attempting to break away from the traditional romantic comedy genre, doesn’t go far enough and falls back into predictable clichés. You know exactly where the film is going and how it will finish; there are no surprises. Equally, the sub-plot that we are introduced to near the end of the movie, although making you feel somewhat sympathetic to the characters, isn’t explored enough or developed in any depth in order to really add anything to the film.

That isn’t too say that it doesn’t have its good points, the most surprising of which being the on-screen chemistry between Timberlake and Kunis. They really do make the characters believable. The connection they have – and the way they bounce off each other – is what makes the film funny and something worth seeing. Had it been any other pair in the roles, the film could have been potentially awful.

Overall, the film is a watchable and enjoyable one so long as you know what you expect to get from it. Don’t go to watch it expecting anything more than what you can gain from the usual romantic comedy.

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