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Friends With Benefits - Review

Friends With Benefits

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THE big question surrounding this latest rom-com is whether you’d benefit from spending time with these friends. The answer is yes.

Thanks in no small part to the easy going chemistry between Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, Will Gluck’s Friends With Benefits is a worthwhile date flick that boasts plenty for both sexes to enjoy. And that’s despite a number of flaws!

When recently single New York-based head hunter Jamie (Kunis) lures freshly single LA-based art director Dylan (Timberlake) to the Big Apple for a top magazine job, they quickly form a friendship and start to have no strings attached sex.

But while initially fun for all the sexy right reasons, the relationship enters a tricky defining period as emotions come into play.

Gluck’s movie arrives in the wake of the Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher starrer No Strings Attached and is equally as fun as it is flawed. Certainly, Timberlake and Kunis enjoy a better chemistry even if both film’s ultimately follow the same plot beats.

It’s inevitable that feelings will come into play, just as it’s inevitable that there will be a break up and grand make-up sequence to round things off.

Gluck’s film attempts to be hip by acknowledging and even poking fun at the genre stereotypes its leading duo are attempting to avoid but by ultimately treading down the same path it feels just as lazy during its final third.

While another third act sub-plot involving Timberlake’s Alzheimer’s-suffering dad (played by Richard Jenkins in much the same vein as he did in Dear John) feels completely out of place and almost shamefully contrived to manipulate the emotions.

But in most other regards, and thanks to the fine work of its leading pair, Friends With Benefits succeeds in providing a suitably feel-good and nicely risqué rom-com that charms more than it grates.

Woody Harrelson’s self-consciously outrageous gay best friend also adds an extra spark to proceedings whenever he’s on screen, as does a soundtrack that further enables Timberlake to tap into some nicely self-deprecating humour. All in all, it’s a slick package that’s as easy on the eye as it is on the heart-strings.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 109mins
UK Release Date: September 9, 2011