Friends With Benefits (2011)

Friends With Benefits (2011)
Friends With Benefits (2011) DVD / Blu-ray

By: Jenna Zine (Three Beers) –
How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) become fast friends after she convinces him to move to New York City for a job. After each go through breakups, they decide to turn to one another for physical comfort, convinced they can escape the consequences of mixing sex with emotional attachment. Umm… you know what’s going to happen, right?

A Toast

The comedic tone is kicked off with awesome cameos by Andy Samberg as Quincy and Emma Stone as Kayla – Jamie and Dylan’s soon to be exes, respectively. I won’t ruin the breakup scenes, but they are hilarious.

I was predisposed to dislike this film, since I’m not a huge Justin Timberlake fan. The way he handled the whole Super Bowl/Janet Jackson/Nipplegate scandal? Come on! That bra didn’t rip itself off; Justin did. That does not a gentleman make. Let’s not even get into the inexcusably bad job he did in Black Snake Moan. But there comes a time to forgive and forget – and that time for Timberlake and me is now. I must say the guy did a decent job. Methinks he’s been throwing down for some acting lessons… Not to say that deft director Will Gluck (Easy A) and a host of wonderful actors, including the gorgeous Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson and Richard Jenkins didn’t help him along. Because they helped – a lot.

Beer Two

Remember how frustrating it was to watch Friends and think, “How do these good-looking people with no discernable income afford these amazing NYC digs?” You’ll think the same thing in FWB. Yes, both Dylan and Jamie have great jobs and are successful in their chosen fields. In a unique twist, they’re often even shown working! But it was distracting, nonetheless. I guess I’m running with the wrong crowd – I don’t have any twenty-something friends with million dollar apartments in the city. Damn.

Successful people with amazing apartments and nice butts!

There were several other distractions that marred this serviceable romantic comedy. Will Gluck was obviously chomping at the bit to use Patricia Clarkson again after her fun turn as Emma Stone’s bantering mom in Easy A. And who could blame him? She’s a powerhouse. Here she plays Mila Kunis’s errant, wild child mother to the hilt. I get that she’s supposed to be an unconventional, irresponsible, free spirit. But even she can’t make walking in on her daughter having sex (and failing to leave the room) a reasonable moment. And trust me, you’ll cringe when she delivers her “slam piece” line. Ouch.

What perplexed me most was the already dated script. The aforementioned “slam piece” along with talk of “shitting the bed” pulled me out of the moment. The use of flash mobs as a plot device, not once but three times in the span of the movie, had me wondering what year it was. A flash mob? Seriously? The first mob took place in 2003. The film is supposedly set in 2011, as far as I could tell. Don’t even get me started on the repeat plays of Semisonic’s old warhorse college radio tune, “Closing Time” or the constant mention of pilot/hero Chelsey Sullenberger, who successfully landed a plane in the Hudson River in 2009.

Beer Three

However, the film is still solid three-beer fun. If you want to see Mila and Justin have lots of hot and heavy simulated sex, the film delivers and then some! The flick has no problem showing how and why it got its name. Timberlake and Kunis have great chemistry. Hell, I’d show up to watch Mila read the phone book; and she does a lot more than that here.

Let’s shake on it!

The film is a paint by numbers rom-com, but it does so knowingly. While it’s seemingly unaware in references, it’s still a smart script. By definition, the movie does have to adhere to typical plot movements: meet cute, development of attraction, hurt feelings and dramatic reunion/resolution – but the filmmakers are still willing to have fun with it.

Other winking moments to let the audience know they’re in on the joke include a rom-com within a rom-com. Jamie’s favorite film is often playing in the background and is referenced often. It doesn’t hurt that Jason Segel and Rashida Jones play the faux DVD lovers. Olympic snowboarder Shaun White is a hoot in his commercial film debut as a jerk that keeps bumping into Justin’s character, literally. Bonus points for use of a saxophone version of Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend,” as well as showing snippets of the classic partner swap film from 1969, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.

This is not the only pussy he’ll have on his face. OMG – I totally went there!

Verdict

As my friend, who was willing to sacrifice a few hours of sunshine in order to accompany me said, “You know, that was pretty cute… for what it was.” Just like Mila and Justin, it’s doable.

 

Bonus Drinking Game

Take a drink: every time Jamie and Dylan hit the sheets!

Take a drink: every time a damn flash mob shows up.

Take a drink: every time Woody Harrelson’s character gets some screen time. There seems to be no point to his character, but he rolls with it.

Last Call

If you’re willing to wait to the very end of the credits, there’s about 30 seconds more footage that’s cute – but not necessarily worth the sticking around for.

 

About Jenna Zine

Jenna Zine was in the process of getting rejected by literary journals, until she gave up the ghost and is now currently penning a deliciously trashy beach read. The happiest day of her life was when MovieBoozer accepted her film reviews. Err, that and her wedding day to Pillow Talk's Larry Crane, of course. Find more at www.jennazine.com

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