An alluring version of friends with benefits

By Helen Mannion

Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher make an entertaining couple of friends who develop a romantic relationship.

No Strings Attached, as the title suggests, is the story of two friends struggling to maintain a relationship with no emotional baggage or commitment. It is a typical romantic comedy, but with a fresh cast and funny lines, it doesn’t disappoint.

Adam (Ashton Kutcher, Valentine’s Day) and Emma (Natalie Portman, Black Swan) meet for the first time at sleep-away camp as teenagers. Emma states from the get-go that she is not an affectionate person while Adam is the exact opposite.

The two run into each other sporadically as they grow up, once at a college party and once at an outdoor market, where they discover they both live and work in the same city. Adam works as a production assistant on a Glee-inspired show and Emma is an emergency room doctor. The pair exchange cell phone numbers and go their separate ways.

After a particularly scarring run-in with his father, Alvin (Kevin Kline, The Ice Storm) and an ex-girlfriend, Adam seeks solace in his college friend Eli (Jake Johnson, Get Him to the Greek), bartender Wallace (Ludacris, 2 Fast 2 Furious) and various mixed drinks. After an intoxicating night out, Adam finds himself back at the apartment of none other than Emma and her roommates.
Horrified after being discovered naked on the couch by one of the roommates, Shira (Mindy Kaling, The Office), Adam ends up in Emma’s room. The two give in to their mutual attraction and devise a plan to become “sex friends.” They get together at odd hours of the day and night and vow to not develop feelings for one another.

One day while she’s working, Emma’s sister Katie (Olivia Thirlby, Juno) drops by to announce her engagement. While she makes it clear she isn’t good with relationships and commitment, the news throws Emma for a loop.

To add to her confusion, Adam begins to show signs that he is falling for her. In one of the more memorable scenes, he makes Emma and her roommates a “period mix” on a CD and brings cupcakes to get the girls through that time of the month. Adam and Emma end up snuggling and falling asleep, which scares Emma because their relationship is developing. Adam eventually convinces her to go on a real date with him to see if they are truly meant to be. The date ends badly, causing the two to part ways, supposedly for good.

On the eve of her sister’s wedding after a few weeks of separation, Emma realizes her love for Adam. The two eventually make up and get together, which is the predictable resolution.

The movie definitely follows the traditional romantic comedy format, but the cast brings a new life into the old arrangement. Kutcher has sincerely matured since his Punk’d days and is on his way to proving himself as a serious actor. Portman is quirky and cheesy, perfectly blending the two and proving she can be both a serious and funny actress. The supporting cast adds a lot to the film as well, with Kaling leading the pack. Her one-liners get the audience laughing at just the right moments.
If the film leaves you wanting more, which it probably will, be sure to stay for the credits.

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