So Natalie Portman goes from Black Swan, a dark and chilling Oscar winning film, to No Strings Attached, a light hearted, fluffy romantic comedy, am I getting that right? I think I am and to be honest, that was my first thought when I sat down to watch this film. But, being the huge Natalie Portman fan that I am, I decided to give it a chance.
Portman looked cute in the role and it also has that funny guy from Punk’d. Yes, I’m referring to Ashton Kutcher. With these two in the lead, I figured things couldn’t be that bad. And you know what? For the most part, I was right. No Strings Attached is a light hearted, fluffy romantic comedy, but it’s also fairly enjoyable.
Our story begins with Adam (Ashton Kutcher). Adam met a girl named Emma (Natalie Portman), a long time ago. They lost touch but every so often they seem to bump into each other. During one of their random encounters, he decides to take down her number, maybe he’ll give her a call sometime.
This never happens though and he seems to forget about her. That is until one drunken night, when he accidentally drunk messages her. The next morning he wakes up on her couch, unsure of what happened or how he got there. When he goes into her room to ask her what’s going on, she explains the situation and the two quickly find themselves in bed and between the sheets.
Confused as to where to go next, Emma suggests that they just keep it simple. No relationship, just casual sex, no strings attached. Adam agrees because, well, who would turn that down? As the two try to keep it simple and hold back on anything serious, Adam starts to realize that he’s developing feelings for Emma. Complications arise and the two struggle to figure out if any relationship can ever be just about the sex.
So as you can tell, it’s one of those cutesy romantic comedies with a general story that we’ve more or less seen a bunch of times already. But surprisingly, it’s more enjoyable than most films of this nature. Being a guy, I was almost dreading seeing this but I actually came out of it generally pleased and with mainly positive feelings towards the film.
Part of what makes the film work so well is the two lead performances. Kutcher provides the same performance he usually does, which is one that is funny and undeniably watchable. He’s got a charisma to him that makes it hard for you not to enjoy his acting. His good hearted character also feels pretty relatable, which helps to engage audiences. Kutcher’s arrogance and swag from Spread are gone and in there place is an air of vulnerability and shyness, which is a welcome change.
Opposite Kutcher is Portman, an actress that you shouldn’t need any convincing of when it comes to her beauty and talents. Not only is she easy on the eyes, but she turns Emma into a likeable, adorable girl who we’d all be happy to be with. She’s funny, smart, sexy and oh did I mention beautiful? Portman is just as captivating here as she was in her role of Nina in Black Swan. Together, Kutcher and Portman exude strong chemistry that makes it hard not to fall for them as a couple, leaving you rooting for them the whole way.
The smart and sexy script keeps things feeling fresh and moving at a great pace. It’s often witty and sharp. Almost every scene is full of genuinely funny moments/lines and an excellent supporting cast (Greta Gerwig, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Kline, Ludacris and more) keeps the smile on your face, all offering raunchy and witty banter.
Now problems do arise, especially with the finale, which dives into a predictable and very sappy area. The film also does feel a bit contrived at times and you’ll find youself in familiar territory on more than a few instances. And it’s a shame, because for a while it seems like the film is going to sidestep those issues that plauge most romantic comedies. For a while it feels fresh and new. But by the end, we’ve entered cliche city and it does hurts the film. Lastly, Emma’s character is a bit underdeveloped, which is in no part Portman’s fault, rather its due to some weak scripting in that regard. These problems are only minor hiccups though in what is otherwise an above average romantic comedy.
While it’s not without problems, No Strings Attached is a romantic comedy worth watching, and that’s saying a lot. Every member of the cast lights up the screen with humor and charm and there are a lot of genuinely funny moments. A sappy ending and some predictable narrative choices weigh things down but ultimately, director Ivan Reitman comes up with one of his best films in years. It’s a witty, watchable and raunchy comedy that gives both Kutcher and Portman a chance to shine and show off their comedic talents. More importantly, it’s worth a watch for both girls and guys. A smart and sexy romantic comedy that can truly be enjoyed by both genders.
No Strings Attached was released on January 14, 2011.