No Strings Attached
Review by Patrick Garland
I thought I could do it. It seemed so simple. It was kind of the dream we all dream of. I wanted to see a movie with no strings attached. I guess, basically, a romantic comedy with benefits. I just wanted to spend a couple of hours at my local cinema and find pleasure watching a film that wouldn’t ask me to respect it in the morning. It sounded easy enough to me. But something happened while I watched “No Strings Attached”. It started as a slight discomfort in my stomach. Then the pain seemed to worsen as the minutes went on. Right down in my gut. It was then I knew I couldn’t have a meaningless relationship with this film. I had crossed the line. I had deeper feelings for it. But don’t be mistaken, those feelings weren’t love. It was something else. It was a deep, terrible dislike. I felt distain for “No Strings Attached”. I mean I really couldn’t stand it. How sad I was. You can’t have a fling with a movie like that. Who hooks up with someone they can’t stand? All of you out there raising your hands right now, I suggest you lower them quickly before your signifigant other knocks you out.
“No Strings Attached”, starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman, has a simple enough premise. Two attractive single friends decide to start having casual sex but promise not to let a full-fledged relationship get in the way of the fun. No falling in love to mess things up. Or is there? That is the main problem with this film. Predictability. The screenplay is quite shaky. It is loaded down with way too many clichés and it really holds no surprises for the viewer. It also doesn’t help matters that it is filled with very crude dialogue that tries very hard to make things seem hip or cool but just ends up falling flat.
Director Ivan Reitman wastes supporting roles by Kevin Kline and Cary Elwes. Kline who is usually fantastic is given nothing to do. Elwes is almost unrecognizable as a doctor working at the hospital with Portman’s character. He just fades into the background like the scenery around him. Leading man Ashton Kutcher just looks bored most of the time and doesn’t have much to do besides try to convince us he is falling in love with someone he has little to no chemistry with.
Halfway through the film I actually thought about using the butterfly effect so that I could transport myself back through time. This would enable me to go to Paramount and help fix this mess of a movie. But then I remembered about the dangers involved in time travel and how when you try to repair something, you usually end up making it much worse. Then I realized that this film couldn’t get much worse no matter what I did. So I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth the extreme head shaking and unsightly nose bleeding that go along with my butterfly powers. No amount of intervention could save it. Plus, I was also worried I might wake up with no arms or that I might find that my best friend had turned into an angry, tattooed punk rocker. Or worse…my time travel shenanigans might lead to the cosmic merging of two movies into one creating a new film called “The Attacking Clones Have No Strings Attached”. This paradox would then lead to a painful double portion of lazy acting and clunky love scenes starring Natalie Portman. But I digress.
The other problem with this film is Portman. When I think of fun and witty romantic comedy leading ladies I don’t think of Natalie Portman. We have all seen the fine work she can do, “Black Swan” being the most recent example. But this one is a huge misstep for her. She just doesn’t have any real comedic timing and she also seems bored most of the time. She is only effective in the scenes where she is asked to play it straight. In the funny moments she seems really out of place.
I wanted to like “No Strings Attached”. Not get too involved. Just walk away after and call it a night. But it wouldn’t let me. It made me feel something. Regrettably, that feeling was something bad.
“No Strings Attached” earns one star out of four stars. That’s the way I see it.
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Release Date: January 21, 2011
Run Time: 110 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures