6.5 out of 10
There is nothing special, flashy or clever about ‘No Strings Attached,’ but being in an oversaturated, underachieving genre, this one holds its own quite nicely. The filmmakers certainly did not reinvent the romantic comedy, but Natalie Portman shines, handling a large portion of the comedy. The supporting cast helps out a lot and there is just enough chemistry between the leads to be believable. The result is your average, enjoyable ‘Rom Com’ that is best viewed at a cheaper venue like your living room rather than the expensive theater.
No Strings Attached rates a 6.5 out of 10. As usual, this review will be as spoiler-free as possible, and any spoilers included will be clearly marked so you can avoid reading them if you wish. Let’s look at The Good, The Bad and The Bottom Line.
No Strings Attached opens in Baltimore on January 21, 2011.
Natalie Portman, Natalie Portman, and Natalie Portman. No, seriously…Natalie Portman. After a fantastic, dark, twisted performance in Aronofsky’s Black Swan, Portman manages to give life to another very interesting character. In ‘No Strings’ she portrays a strong, independent woman named Emma who has some issues when it comes to relationships. As a result she tries to have a strictly physical relationship with her friend, Adam, played by Ashton Kutcher. What is so great about her performance is the fact that Emma must have this hard shell that keeps the emotions inside while also keeping those around her at arm’s length. Yet, she is also vulnerable, and wants something more. Oh yeah, and Natalie plays a hilarious drunk.
The supporting cast in ‘No Strings’ is pretty great. Kevin Kline plays Alvin, Adam’s father. Cary Elwes has a small part as another doctor. Greta Gerwig has a couple of the best lines, playing Emma’s best friend. Lake Bell is hilarious as a neurotic coworker. And even Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges is fun to watch as one of Adam’s friends. Supporting players are very important in a romantic comedy as a lot of the humor comes from interactions between different people. This cast was chosen well and all did a very good job.
When ‘No Strings’ is funny, it’s really funny. The beginning of the film is hilarious, as are several other scenes throughout.
The only problem with being sporadically funny is that the scenes that miss their mark or the heavy, emotional scenes seem a little longer and slower. As a member of the audience you really just want to get to the next great joke and that anticipation makes sitting through the other scenes a chore.
The running time is nearly 2 hours. That’s just way too long for the genre and for this story. The emotional scenes do have their moments and some of them are touching, but for the most part they drag and kill the momentum of the movie.
And, of course, this film suffers from a common ailment of romantic comedies: predictability. There are quite a few clichés and most people have seen enough films in this genre that you can pretty much predict, sometimes nearly word for word, what the next scene will be. Are there ‘rom coms’ out there more predictable and clichéd? Sure. Are there ‘rom coms’ out there far less predictable and clichéd? Absolutely. Usually, films in this genre get a little more wiggle room when it comes to this topic. We tend to forgive these things a little bit more since we can relate to the characters and situations (after all, clichés didn’t get to be clichés by being untrue and uninteresting). So, this may not be as annoying as the same problem could be in other types of movies.
The Bottom Line
‘No Strings Attached’ is an average romantic comedy. And don’t take that the wrong way. This still goes down as a recommendation, but let’s just save it for a rental. There is no reason to spend theater money on this one. You’re not going to miss out on special effects, wide landscapes or other things that should be seen on the big screen. Natalie Portman is fantastic in this one, as is the supporting cast. There is enough chemistry between her and Kutcher to be believable. The funny scenes will have you laughing, quite a bit. But, this is a little too long and clichéd and gets bogged down by the heavy emotional scenes. Parents use caution. This is rated R with strong sexual content and language.