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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 16, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Funny love affair hones weak plot

While many wonder whether it’s possible to be friends with the opposite gender without sex getting in the way, “No Strings Attached” charters the tale of two friends who decide to have both a platonic and physical relationship, changing the original question to whether two friends can have sex without love getting in the way.

Ashton Kutcher, assumes his usual role as the lovable loser Adam, and Natalie Portman plays her character Emma with deft sassiness, a complete departure from her Golden Globe-winning “Black Swan” ballerina. The two play old friends on different life tracks. Emma is an emotionally distant doctor working on her residency, while Adam is a cheery production assistant for a soapy “Glee”-esque television sitcom.

After a series of opportune encounters, Emma suggests that she and Adam use each other for sex, free from the obligations of a romantic relationship. Of course, the inevitable happens: the two begin to fall in love, straining their friendship with benefits.

While the critically acclaimed Portman and slacker-stereotyped Kutcher seem like an unlikely pair, their quirky chemistry translates well onto the big screen, carrying this entirely predictable film.

Kutcher is especially charming as the hopeless romantic who doggedly woos Portman’s commitment-phobic character. His acting as the romantic sap is enough to make a viewer root for the unrealistic union of Emma and Adam, despite their lifestyle differences. Portman’s winsomeness as the love-shy Emma proves why she is one of the best actresses of her generation; her ability to seamlessly adjust herself to the nature of the films in which she acts, whether a dark drama like “Black Swan” or a fluffy romantic comedy like “No Strings Attached,” is a testament to her skill.

The film can be sweetly adorable at times, with some moments of true humor, like when Adam brings Emma a bouquet of carrots despite her request for him to refrain from giving her anything typically
romantic. But, those instances are lost in the predictable and weak plot that relies on shoddy comedy,
stereotypes and crass references to get laughs.

Kutcher and Portman give endearing and earnest performances in this cliché film about the ins and outs of love (or lack thereof). Though the film may be a predictable rom-com, it is undeniably enjoyable to watch.

“No Strings Attached” was written by Elizabeth Meriwether and directed by Ivan Reitman.