Friends With Benefits DVD|
The relationship between two friends gets complicated when they decide to get romantic. Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) think it's going to be easy to add the act of sex to their friendship, but getting physical leads to complications!from£4.25 | RRP:
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 or region free DVD player in order to play Dylan (Justin Timberlake) is done with relationships Jamie (Mila Kunis) decides to stop buying into the Hollywood clichés of true love When the two become friends they decide to try something new and take advantage of their mutual attraction - but without any emotional attachment Physical pleasure without the entanglements Sounds easy enough for two logical adults right? Not so much They soon realise romantic comedy stereotypes might exist for a reason
Romantic comedy starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. When friends Dylan (Timberlake) and Jamie (Kunis) are dumped by their respective partners, they decide to become 'friends with benefits', thereby enjoying the simple pleasures of company, conversation and sex without the commitment and complications of being in an actual relationship. However, it isn't long before they discover there are just as many potential pitfalls in their 'arrangement' as there are in being boyfriend and girlfriend. Woody Harrelson and Patricia Clarkson co-star.
Average Rating for Friends With Benefits - 4 out of 5
(based on 3 user reviews)
Friends With BenefitsDan Grainger
It's a word (well, ok, hyphenate) that sends shivers up the spines of most right-thinking men. Usually uttered in response to our generous offers of "why don't YOU choose what we watch tonight?", it immediately conjours up the spectre of predictable plots, sub-Adam-Sandler-level acting, cheesy dialogue, lame and unfunny romantic situations, and a layer of schmaltz and sugar that would be enough to send you into a diabetic coma. "Why must it be this way?", we ask; "Surely somebody can come up with a rom-com that's actually funny, smart and original, and which has an appeal that goes beyond a single gender?"
Well after watching Friends With Benefits, it seems like someone has finally answered our prayers.
Because Friends With Benefits is almost the anti-rom-com. Starting out with an opening sequence that sees both of the lead characters reject romantic love outright (after they each separately suffer bad break-ups in their existing relationships) the film quickly brings them together to set up its central premise - and it's a doozy. Because whilst the most classic rom-com of all time (When Harry Met Sally) posed the question, "can a man and a woman ever be friends without the sex getting in the way?", Friends With Benefits flips this on its head, asking "can a man and a woman ever have a purely sexual relationship without their friendship getting in the way?".
That's a pretty smart inversion of the classic rom-com template, and it immediately stakes out Friends With Benefits as an altogether more adult and raunchy film than most rom-coms you'll see. Whilst it might end up treading some familiar paths (it's a Hollywood boy-meets-girl movie, so it's inevitably going to end up following the formula to an extent), the route it takes to get there is very different, and deals with some subject matter that's quite rare to see explored on film. For example, the minutiae of physical observations about the opposite sex that usually go unspoken; the various details of male and female sexual etiquette; and the conscious rubbishing of most rom-com clichés (which actually happens explicitly, on-screen, as the pair watch bad rom-com movies together and point out how stupid they are).
Talking of the central pairing, it seems remiss of me to have not mentioned by now that this movie stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as the couple in question. And if you weren't interested before, I can guarantee you are now, no matter what your gender or sexual orientation. Luckily, as well as looking great, these two actors have a great chemistry on screen together, and you can really believe in their friendship as well as their attraction to one another - which is crucial if we're going to buy into the film's central premise. And happily, they can both act pretty well too, especially when the film moves into its more thoughtful second-half that deals with the backstory of Justin Timberlake's character and his relationship with his father and absent mother.
As well as the central relationship between the couple and the serious family stuff that gets explored towards the end, the film can also boast a smattering of comedy setpieces that go beyond the usual rom-com fare by actually being pretty funny. There's an amusing running gag involving Kunis' character's free-love-embracing hippy mother who can't remember who her daughter's father is; there's a charming performance from a child actor who plays Timberlake's character's magic-obsessed nephew, who can never get his tricks to go right (on one occasion setting himself on fire in the process); and there's a great physical-comedy setpiece involving the iconic Hollywood sign, which ends up escalating and escalating until it reaches a ridiculously over-the-top payoff. Oh, and there are some nice performances from supporting actors too, most notably Woody Harrelson as a gay sports journalist who works for the same magazine as Timberlake's character, and who manages to come off as a complete and well-rounded personality that avoids almost all of the clichés that usually accompany token gay characters in these kinds of movies.
The only bad thing I can say about the film is that it occasionally seems a little dated - which feels like an odd thing to say about such a recent movie, but all the references to 2011-zetigeist stuff like flashmob dancing, Playstation Move and slick touch-screen computers now feels decidedly two-years-ago. Still, it's not a big problem, and it doesn't get in the way of all the film's other positive attributes. Because this film manages to be smart, funny, sexy, clever, touching (but not schmaltzy), sexy, unpredictable (and did I mention sexy?) - all within the framework of what purports to be a regular mainstream rom-com. Guys, if your girlfriend says she wants to watch a rom-com tonight, then this is the one to pick. And girls, if you want to pick a romantic comedy that your boyfriend will enjoy at least as much as you will, then Friends With Benefits is the choice for you.
Friends With BenefitsRoss McIndoe
Over the last couple of years, one of the hottest emerging sub-genres - aside from the now ludicrously overpopulated "found-footage" horror film -has been the Anti-Rom-Com.
Although the origins of this less sanguine brand of romantic comedy can be traced back at least as far as Woody Allen's 1977 masterpiece Annie Hall, Hollywood has recently become particularly fond of films that riff on the schmaltzy, unrealistic nature of the likes of When Harry Met Sally.
Most of these films fall down by becoming the very thing they were designed to satirise; unable to resist the temptation of a fairytale ending and afraid of audience revolt if the two best looking people on screen don't end up living together, they simply become Rom-Coms.
The highlight so far of this new wave of more cynical comedy has been the gleefully inventive 500 Days of Summer, thanks in no small part to its willingness to avoid the aforementioned traps.
Friends With Benefits does decidedly less well in this regard.
The plot would seem perfect for a more modern, less idealistic look at how modern relationships really function: Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) are two friends who, sick of constantly finding themselves in unsatisfying relationships, decide to augment their happy friendship by adding sex to their list of shared activities.
No intimacy, no romance, just sex.
The question of whether two people can sleep together without becoming romantically entangled is a very interesting and highly topical subject to base a film on but one that is pretty much squandered by the movie's unwillingness to take any risks; sticking rigidly to the default rom-com storyline with such vehemence that you could watch it with a list of generic romantic-comedy plot-points and be completely confident of ticking them all off before the end credits roll.
In fairness, it does this with a certain amount of self-awareness: at heart, Jamie is a true romantic who spends much of her time indulging in "Prince Charming" fantasies by watching the schmaltziest of romantic-comedies. By having her and Dylan mock the various tropes and clichés of such cheesy date-movies, it allows for them to then slyly wink at the audience as their own story indulges in each and every one of them.
Acknowledging the irony of making a generic rom-com that mocks generic rom-coms might not make doing so entirely forgivable but it does make the hypocrisy involved more amusing than it would otherwise have been.
At this point you might be wondering why I've given such a positive score to a film that
I've essentially deemed a failure. The main factor in elevating it above the realm of the by-the-numbers romantic comedy is how inescapably likeable its cast is.
Timberlake and Kunis have been on the rise for the last couple of years, giving great performances in Oscar-winning dramas (The Social Network & Black Swan respectively) as well as showing their comedic skills in the lighter likes of Ted, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the decidedly underrated In Time. (Seriously; horrendous time-puns aside, it really wasn't that bad)
Here they make for an immensely entertaining duo with great chemistry and a very believable knack for friendly banter. Getting the audience to root for the main couple is really half the battle in this sort of film and Dylan and Jamie are so much fun to watch that they actually enable the entire film to rise above its own total lack of originality.
Their supporting cast is also on good form, especially the incomparable Woody Harrelson who plays an overtly homosexual co-worker of Dylan's and, whilst few of the jokes involving him are particularly sophisticated, his mere presence is enough to make them genuinely amusing.
Having shot to fame in Director Will Gluck's more critically acclaimed previous film Easy A, Emma Stone returns for a very brief but very funny appearance as Dylan's soon-to-be ex-girlfriend and there are a couple of great cameos from snowboarding legend Shaun White and ex-Hero Masi Oka.
One of the film's strongest performances, though, comes from Richard Jenkins as Dylan's Alzheimer's-afflicted father. However, I personally found the inclusion of this particular sub-plot to be a little exploitative as it basically comes across as a cheap attempt to endow the film with more emotional depth than it actually has. Shoehorning in a plotline about Dylan's attempts to deal with his father's deteriorating mental state was clearly supposed to add another, more serious dimension to the character and the film itself but the issue is given such little screen-time as to prevent the film from really dealing with it in the kind of depth that such a subject really requires.
The only other minor ethical qualm that one could possibly have with this film (assuming you're not one of these crazy ultra-conservative types liable to have a heart-attack upon discovering the meaning of the term "friends with benefits") is its utterly shameless use of product placement.
I'm not really one to get too bent out of shape about this issue, I'm fairly confident that the artistic integrity of cinema can withstand the inclusion of a few conspicuously placed beverages or mobile phones, but it is so prevalent within Friends With Benefits as to become slightly distracting, especially when the film briefly transforms into a PlayStation Move advert.
That said, the advantage of making a comedy is that the film can basically make a joke of the total lack of effort being made to conceal the endorsement deals that funded it; you can almost see its stars smirking as they hold their laptops at just an awkward enough angle to ensure the logo is visible throughout the scene.
In the end, despite its total failure to capitalise on a potentially original and intriguing premise, Friends With Benefits makes for very easy and actually very enjoyable watching, mainly thanks to the chemistry between its leading pair. It hasn't changed the landscape of romantic-comedies or even offered any real innovation upon the formulaic films that it lampoons but it does provide more than enough laughs and should have you smiling by the time it reaches its amusingly predictable conclusion.
Friends With BenefitsJulian Howard
Friends With Benefits is a romantic comedy set mainly in New York with additional scenes in LA. The film follows online art director Dylan (Justin Timberlake) as he gets recruited to GQ magazine by headhunter Jamie (Mila Kunis). The two get together soon enough but not on the usual terms - this time it's purely friendship plus sex. And be warned - or get excited - there is a lot of it. The bedroom scenes manage to be both graphic and funny but of course we know that such a relationship is doomed to failure because sex alone is never enough and after all this is a romantic comedy, right? As such, the plot is predictable enough; the casual nature of the relationship is tested when Jamie decides to date other men. When that (invariably) fails, Dylan lets Jamie get too close by inviting her to LA to meet his dysfunctional but endearing family. There follows a falling out based on a misunderstanding followed by the final reconciliation at which point the relationship is appropriately upgraded and everyone is happy.
I deliberately omitted a spoiler warning there given the highly predictable nature of the genre and the fact that this exact same theme and plotline has been covered quite recently. In No Strings Attached, Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman make a pact to have er...no strings attached casual sex without falling in love. Even the tagline sounds suspiciously familiar, "Friendship has its benefits".
This is not to say that Friends With Benefits is a samey film; there is sufficient originality in the details and minor roles to keep things interesting. Woody Harrelson's unique take on alpha-homosexuality is superb while Richard Jenkins as Dylan's father even manages to infuse humour into the sensitive subject of Alzheimer's disease. The city of New York itself deserves special mention, looking great in mid-summer. While the amazing apartments Jamie and Dylan live in are somewhat unlikely for two people in their late 20s living in the Big Apple, the use of flash mobs and cutting edge cellular and internet technology remind us that the romantic comedy has come a long way since the now rather quaint-looking You've Got Mail with its dial-up connections and chunky laptops.
As for the main actors, there is no doubt that Justin Timberlake can hold his own in this company. A convincing portrayal of enthusiasm and sheer energy seem to be his edge, whether of the malevolent kind in The Social Network or the more engaging kind seen here. A great example of this is when he rips the door off his new office at GQ to emphasise the open nature of his management style. It may sound corny and Office USA-like but Timberlake somehow manages to bring a youthful freshness and style to this and just about everything else he does in the film. Mila Kunis for her part looks sultry throughout and her exploration of the female emotional spectrum in all its glory is more than credible. Most importantly, these two actors create a palpable sense of chemistry in a way which most other romantic comedies manage to fail dismally. In an increasingly crowded genre, this alone is enough to raise Friends With Benefits firmly above its peers.
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