MFR Rating: ★ ★
Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake are obviously two very good looking young people. In fact, they’re so good looking an entire 109 minute movie is dedicated to them having sex. The premise sounds intolerable beyond the scope of softcore rom-com erotica but thankfully, it’s frivolous without feeling too smug or self-indulgent. It’s romcommy, cheesy and a nice little advertisement for the New York tourist board.
Justin Timberlake plays Dylan, first presented as a cocky 20-something, working vaguely in new media and just broken up from a relationship. Timberlake’s character at the beginning of the movie could easily be a copy and paste job of his role as Sean Parker in 2010’s The Social Network (which incidentally I considered brave and inspired casting) but thankfully as the film moves on he gradually becomes more likeable. Mila Kunis is Jamie, a corporate head hunter (really?) and just like Dylan, has just ended a relationship. She headhunts Dylan to work at GQ and together they become gorgeous sex buddies.
Both leads actually do a good job with what’s available. Timberlake has good screen presence and I actually think he’s got an excellent acting career ahead of him. He’s due to star in sci-fi thriller In Time later this year, so it will be nice to see him branch out from kids movie voiceovers and rom-coms but he does a perfectly amiable job in this role. Kunis also is sweet without ever being particularly annoying and the relationship between both characters works fine.
The script is lacking and makes far too big a push to ‘sell’ New York as a world of dreams which ends up feeling a little sickly in its grandeur. Its self awareness with lines that pick holes in the romantic comedy genre offers a postmodern and thought provoking insight into whether love on the screen can ever be projected into reality. Well, I might be lying a little bit. It’s incredible cheesy and clichéd but just about manages to hold together. The same can be said for the film as a whole. Very few laughs but at least moderately enjoyable and I didn’t feel angry afterwards. A nice enough job, could have easily been much worse. A slightly harsh two stars.
Friends With Benefits is out on 9th September in the UK and out now in the US. Running time: 109 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
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Review by David Rank