Friday, July 22, 2011

When Dylan Met Jamie ...

Among the many things we can thank When Harry Met Sally... for is the not-breaking news that try as they might, men and women just can't be friends because sex always gets in the way. If they could, then many, many, many movies would never have been made. Among them: Friends with Benefits, a new film in which two impossibly good looking, single, emotionally detached people decide to sleep together but not date. (Yes, it's pretty much the same plot as No Strings Attached.) Will these two eventually get over themselves and fall in love? What do you think?

Alright, you know going into the movie that the plot isn't exactly suspenseful. So is the rest of it enjoyable and worth the 105 minutes? Eh. The film starts out with one of the squarest sequences, in which corporate recruiter Jamie (Mila Kunis) tries to convince hot-shot L.A.-based designer Dylan (Justin Timberlake) to take a job in New York at GQ magazine. In one night, the pair go from Rockefeller Center to lower Manhattan to a busy, bustling Times Square — by subway, apparently — where a flash mob, of all things, seals the deal. (There's another flash mob at the end of the movie. What is this, 2009?) And then you still have to wait about 15 more minutes till these kids start sleeping together. Talk about delayed gratification.

Thankfully, when they do, it's worth it. And no, I don't mean that in a sketchy, pervy way. Timberlake and Kunis look like they sure had a good time making the movie (wouldn't you, if this was your job?), and they get along well on screen. After impressive dramatic performances in The Social Network and Black Swan, it's fun to see these two back in lightweight roles. We're not talking Hepburn and Tracy here, or even Crystal and Ryan, but I could stand to watch these two for a bit longer.

Unfortunately, the film itself just isn't as hip and cool as it wants to be. The dialogue tries a little too hard, the characters aren't terribly believable, and much as the film tries to be ironic in its attitude toward romantic comedies in general, some of it just comes off as lame. As charming and enthusiastic as Timberlake and Kunis are, it's possible they're a little too "stary" (Timberlake especially) to make the story even remotely plausible.

Granted, I'm not the target audience here; I'll admit that the 20somethings who sat behind me when I saw the film were laughing and enjoying it more than I did. Plenty of stuff could have been cut to make FWB a tighter, better movie. (Woody Harrelson's gay sports editor could have been excised completely, for example.) I kinda felt sorry for Richard Jenkins, who plays Dylan's Alzheimer's-afflicted dad, because this great actor deserves better. It all adds up to a less than beneficial moviegoing experience. So I'm giving FWB a B–.



Post a Comment

<< Home