Business rating: 1 star
Star cast: Ashton Kutcher, Natalie Portman, Kevin Kline.
What’s Good: The performances of the character actors; for a few, the overdose of sex.
What’s Bad: Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman disappoint; the story is clichéd as hell.
Verdict: No Strings Attached is a chick flick which is funny only at places.
Loo break: Anytime in the latter half.
Watch or Not? Watch only if you are a girl in your teens.
Paramount Pictures, Cold Spring Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment’s No Strings Attached is about a couple’s attempt to have a strictly sexual relationship and not fall in love.
Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) are life-long friends, who first met up at a school camp when they wanted to explore their sexuality, but both were too shy to do anything. They meet again a couple of times in the next decade, till one fine day, Adam turns up at Emma’s apartment, drunk and naked. The next morning, they have sex and find it quite good. Emma suggests an arrangement whereby they can have sex at all times of the day and wherever they want, without getting into a relationship. So, Adam continues at his job as an assistant director for a television series, and Emma, at the medical school, and both have a terrific time. They even lay down a set of ground rules whereby they will neither interfere in each other’s lives nor feel jealous when the other sees someone else.
Soon, however, the word of their sexual relationship spreads like wildfire and Emma’s friends dissuade her. Adam’s friends, on the other hand, are very excited, to say the least. Adam has just come out of a relationship with Vanessa (Ophelia Lovibond), who is having an affair with Adam’s father, Alvin (Kevin Kline). So he is not ready for a relationship. But when Emma gets close to a colleague of hers, Adam starts feeling jealous. He pleads with Emma for a date and then expresses his love. Emma, unable to handle affection, refuses to see him anymore. Adam now stars getting close to his boss, Lucy (Lake Bell). Emma is listless and wants to meet Adam but she can’t muster up the courage to do so. Finally, on the eve of her sister, Katie‘s (Olivia Thirlby) wedding, Emma decides to call up Adam. Adam, who is now quite close to Lucy, talks rudely with Emma. Emma decides to leave the wedding and pay Adam a surprise visit. What happens then? Does their friendship last? Or does it fall apart? The climax answers these questions.
Story and Screenplay – No Strings Attached Review
Mike Samonek and Elizabeth Meriwether’s story is very ordinary but the film is spiced up in the screenplay that depicts a lot of sex. The idea of a couple coming together only for carnal pleasures is not unique but the writers have tried, unsuccessfully, to bring out the humour in such a situation. Many, except maybe a few teenaged girls, will not appreciate seeing an almost naked Ashton Kutcher in the first few reels of the film. Moreover, Elizabeth Meriwether’s screenplay is not very exciting. A few comical interludes apart, the film ends up being a cheesy re-telling of a love story that’s been told many times over before in cinema. The latter half of the film gets even more boring as Emma and Adam start having feelings for each other. What happens suddenly that makes them behave so is not clear to the audience. The second half also bores the audience with fake emotional scenes. However, the film will appeal to adolescents as it is purportedly based on the idea that only sexual relationships without strings attached are okay. The film’s dialogues are excellent at places and strictly average at most others.
Star Performances – No Strings Attached Review
Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman do average jobs. Ashton hams away to glory while Natalie is clearly ill at ease playing her character. In fact, the character actors in the cast do a far better job than the lead actors. Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes, Ludacris and Jake M. Johnson are memorable. The girl gang — Greta Gerwig, Olivia Thirlby, Mindy Kaling, Talia Balsam and Ophelia Lovibond — provide able support. Lake Bell (as Adam’s boss) is the pick of the lot for her fine performance.
Direction, Music and Editing – No Strings Attached Review
Ivan Reitman’s direction is nothing to write home about. He glosses over the basic flaws in the script and makes it seem like the idea of a couple of people having sex all the time will be interesting enough for the audiences. Maybe it would have been the case, were the goings-on convincing enough. By and large, the film entertains little beyond offering a few laughs. John Debney’s background score is okay. Rogier Stoffers’ camerawork is functional. Editor Dana E. Glauberman could have done with a few more cuts in the second half.
The Last Word
All in all, No Strings Attached is a dull fare.