Strung Together

I find it pretty funny that, last year, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis worked together on "Black Swan". But this year, they're both doing sex-buddy movies. In fact, I wonder if Kunis' Friends With Benefits was done specifically to compete with No Strings Attached (only because the latter was released earlier, although as Antz shows, that's a much less than perfect barometer on which to judge).

I haven't seen FWB yet, although I watched No Strings Attached last night. I didn't have much in the way of expectations; I like Portman, of course, but was unaware of or didn't know the rest of the cast. Kutcher has struck me (rightly or wrongly) as a bit of a goof, and I hadn't seen him in anything except The 70s Show, but he was very good.

Kevin Kline was also, as usual, very good (I hadn't been aware of him being in it). And Cary Elwes even had a small role. I'm not sure I'd seen him in anything since Robin Hood: Men in Tights (and he looked a lot different; I didn't recognize him at all), but I've liked him most of the time. Lake Bell also did a fabulous job in a supporting role as the helper (aide de camp?) of the head of the TV show on which Kutcher worked. The scene where her and Kutcher got together was really painful, but in an appropriate way with how we'd seen her on the set, previously.

Story-wise? There was an awful lot of chance involved in them meeting so many times over so many years. Doing this sort of movie with a doctor-in-residency I have some problems with, as well. I heard, long ago, that the divorce rates for doctors-in-residency were astronomically high; I tried looking that up, with limited success. Maybe it isn't as high as I heard, although I wonder how it couldn't be very high.

The hours that they work are absurd, and not healthy for anyone. Not for the doctor, not for their SOs, and, most importantly, not for their patients. I just don't see how they have time for anything resembling a healthy relationship. My hat's off to those who do manage it.

Anyway, I'm getting a bit off-topic here.

I guess one thing that was weird for me was that I've never been in a relationship anything like that. I've never gotten into a relationship where I didn't at least see the potential for the relationship to go somewhere (well, at least nothing beyond hanging out together).

But, getting back to the point, I mostly did like the writing in the movie. It was low-key, and not clever, but did a solid job of conveying what it needed to convey. My only issue was that it did seem to be a bit one-sided. It done to totally build up Kutcher's character, and mostly to knock on Portman's character. More than a few times, I found myself wondering why he was interested in her. Initially? Sure. But after a little bit, it didn't seem like she had any business being in a long-term relationship with anyone. (Tangentially, though, I loved her response to Kline's announcement that he and Kutcher's left-over were thinking of having a kid. I was surprised, watching that scene, that it wasn't that they were already having a kid. Thank goodness for that.) I suppose it might be partially my lack of comprehension of that kind of relationship that leads to my surprise about him sticking around; as I said, I don't get that, either.

Overall, I thought it was an ok movie, but nothing special. And, given that it stars Natalie Portman, that qualifies as a disappointment.

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