Friends with benefits never works, I know this from personal experience… Okay I really don't. There's no such thing, like unicorns or forest sprites. It's fun to think that something like that could exist. Who wouldn't like someone at their beckon and call, at all hours of the day, there to do their sexual bidding? Who wouldn't want to have someone ready at a moments notice to go a couple rounds in the bedroom without all that caring for each other nonsense mucking up the works?
Emma (Natalie Portman) wants just that. She doesn't want to have a boyfriend. Instead she wants someone who will have sex with her whenever she wants it, without any of the repercussions a relationship brings. Adam (Ashton Kutcher) is more of a hopeless romantic, but doesn't say no when Emma makes the too-good-to-be-true proposition.
Adam soon finds himself in a whirlwind of non-committal sex. They call each other at all hours of the night, hook up, but there's definitely no cuddling. That's what couples do and they certainly aren't a couple. Adam is dealing with his own problems. His father, a washed-up TV star played by Kevin Kline, is dating his old girlfriend. It's one of those subplots that a R rated comedy has in order to stick in a few more gross-out moments. Somehow Kevin Kline talking about sex, pot, and doing acid isn't as funny as you think it would be.
'No Strings Attached' is actually a decently written movie. From the premise you'd think that this is going to be another R rated comedy with a few raunchy laughs, but it's got quite a bit of good humor. Granted most of that humor is doled out between the side characters, like Adam's friends Eli (Jake M. Johnson) and Wallace (Ludacris), but for the most part the movie is pretty funny.
This film isn't your normal "let's see how much we can shock them" R rated comedy. Directed by Ivan Reitman ('Ghostbusters'), 'No Strings Attached' actually tries to delve into the ugly mechanics of a relationship based solely on sex. What happens when someone starts to care? What happens when one of them wants more? 'No Strings Attached' works well and we start to feel for the characters, up until a point.
That point comes toward the end when the romantic comedy formulas kick into full gear. At first you think that maybe this film might just sidestep the normal clichés that go along with the rom-com genre, but by the time the end rolls around there's no escaping them. We think that maybe, just maybe, this movie will be strong. That it will take the '(500) Days of Summer' approach and not end with the ending of most rom-coms since the dawn of time. Maybe, just maybe this movie is a little smarter than that. Sadly, it isn't. The last 10 minutes are cliché city. It's held off, for the most part, for this long, but it just can't help itself. You see it coming and there's nothing you can do to stop it. It's even more painful because the first three quarters of the movie are pleasantly surprising.
The 1080p Blu-ray presentation of 'No Strings Attached' looks marvelous.
Instead of pumping up the contrast in favor of coppery skin tones, the palette stays relatively natural and unobtrusive. It still has a warm look to it, but everything appears much more normal and pleasing to the eye. The clarity is near demo-quality. Many of the scenes here feature wonderful, sharp detail. Everything from tiny pores on the skin to threaded textures of clothing looks fantastic. Blacks are evenly balanced, and like I said before, contrast is top-notch. There are no technical faults to report. Aliasing, banding, and other annoying artifacts are nowhere to be seen. A few scenes seem a little bit on the softer side, and one scene where Adam and Emma are driving in Adam's car features very slight noise in the darker areas.
All in all, this is a really great looking release.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track does exactly what it's supposed to do. This isn't a mix that's going to rumble your foundation, but it does well with what it's got.
This is a talkative romantic comedy, so the dialogue is very important. Here it comes through clear and concise through the front and center channels. There are a few times where characters yell witty lines from just out of frame that directionality places perfectly. LFE is sparse, but that's okay. Whenever a hip-hop song comes bumping onto the soundtrack the low-end frequency does a great job at providing some deep bass. Ambient sound is also a little light, but there aren't many scenes that really call for it. A couple busy restaurant and party scenes have some well-rounded surround sound to them.
Anyone who picks this up will be pleased with the results.
'No Strings Attached' works, with clever writing, some funny R rated moments, and the charisma of its two stars… until the end arrives. Then it's all downhill. The movie simply can't avoid the genre pitfalls. For readers looking to pick this one up, rest assured that the audio is great and the video looks fantastic. The special features are your average assortment of promo materials. I'd recommend renting 'No Strings Attached' before purchasing. Treat it like the movie treats relationships. Take it for a test drive, but don't commit to anything just yet.