Every romantic comedy has pretty much the same concept…boy meets girl/girl meets boy, some adventure/problems occur and then they realise how much they love each other and finally get together. It’s been the basis of many a rom-com and Friends with Benefits is no different in terms of storyline so this isn’t a spoiler. What is surprising, however, is that its exceeds expectations and proves to be a very funny new generation of rom-com.
We’d already seen it at the start of the year with No Strings Attached, the concept of friends being able to just have a casual, sexual relationship with none of that boring, emotional stuff getting in the way. However, what was wrong with NSA has thankfully been put right here. The two leads have a brilliant on screen chemistry which was sadly lacking in the early effort by the studios.
Justin Timberlake, who broadened his acting crown with a more than worthy turn in last year’s The Social Network, plays Dylan, a guy who is brought to New York City by head hunter Jamie (Mila Kunis, who starred in the Oscar winning Black Swan). She shows him the wonders of New York and gets him to accept the fantastic job offer open to him, whisking him away from his life in LA. The pair then start seeing more of each other and a friendship grows.
After watching a rather predictive romantic comedy on television they decide they both miss sex and wish it didn’t come with complications such as love and emotion. Both of them know they are emotionally unavailable and damaged so the best thing to do is to start enjoying a relationship-free just sex… well relationship.
What works well about Friends with Benefits is the humour and its young leads. Gone are the days where cinema audiences watched thirty and forty year-old singletons try and forge relationships with the opposite sex. Now it all about the MTV generation and much hotter younger leads. You couldn’t have picked two better than Timberlake and Kunis. Both irritatingly gorgeous with fabulous swanky jobs, they successfully draw you into their lives. Kunis is a smart mouth and her tough, fast-talking Jamie is incredibly likeable. You feel for her as the girl that’s always wanted a Prince Charming and the fairy-tale because that’s what every girl wants. Timberlake’s Dylan is very surprising and proves Timberlake works well when he takes roles people wouldn’t expect. Yes it’s a rom-com but you don’t quite expect JT to be doing or saying certain things and that makes it hilarious whilst bordering on cringey. Luckily it never over steps the mark.
Not to be forgotten is its fantastic supporting cast including Woody Harrelson as Dylan’s gay co-worker (who has some great one-liners) and Patricia Clarkson as Jamie’s free-loving mother.
No film of this genre is without its back stories and these do get explored here with the more meaningful being Dylan’s dad and his fight with Alzheimer’s. While in other films this has felt cliché here it works quite well.
Friends with Benefits is a great little comedy. It’s not Oscar worthy but what film of this type is? Take it for what you’re getting which is a great night out at the cinema.
Best performance: Both the leads and Richard Jenkins as Dylan’s Dad.
Best scene: The restaurant scene with Dylan and his Dad at the Airport.
Best line: Jamie – ‘I have the perfect body for Photoshop. This [face] gets more angular, these [legs] get longer and this [nose] gets way more Christian’.
Two of the actress’s, Emma Stone and Patricia Clarkson, appear as mother and daughter in director Will Gluck’s film Easy A.