Friends with Benefits (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner08/09/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Hugely enjoyable and frequently funny, this gets everything right that the similarly themed No Strings Attached got wrong, thanks to a witty script, assured direction, believable characters and smoking hot chemistry between its two leads.

What's it all about?
Directed by Will Gluck, Friends With Benefits stars Justin Timberlake as Dylan, a Los Angeles art director who's just been dumped by his girlfriend (Emma Stone). When he's head-hunted by Jamie (Mila Kunis) – who has also just been dumped by a cameoing guest star (Andy Samberg) - for a magazine job in New York, he decides to take it and the pair quickly become friends, not least because Dylan doesn't know anyone else in the city.

During a late-night discussion about sex and relationships, Dylan and Jamie realise that they both have emotional commitment issues, so they agree to become “friends with benefits” and decide that they can sleep together without any of that tedious relationship stuff getting in the way. Needless to say, things quickly get complicated, particularly when Jamie starts dating a cute doctor (Bryan Greenberg).

The Good
Timberlake and Kunis make an extremely appealing onscreen couple and their sparky interaction is hugely enjoyable; more to the point, not only do they have smoking hot chemistry together, but their friendship feels believable too. On top of that, there's terrific support from a top-notch comic cast that includes Patricia Clarkson (as Jamie's mother, the root of her commitment issues), Richard Jenkins (as Dylan's increasingly Alzheimer's-afflicted father), Jenna Elfman (as Dylan's sister) and a scene-stealing Woody Harrelson, who's clearly having a whale of a time as Dylan's gay colleague.

Gluck keeps things ticking along at a decent pace and maintains an impressively high gag rate, ensuring that we're never too far away from a funny line or a hilarious set-piece (Timberlake's Kris Kross routine is worth the price of admission alone). Similarly, the excellent script strikes the perfect balance between laugh-out-loud funny and genuinely moving.

The Bad
To be fair, Friends With Benefits isn't quite the romcom formula buster it thinks it is – at one point Dylan and Jamie are seen deriding a cliché-ridden shot-for-the-movie romcom (starring Jason Segel and Rashida Jones) for being cheesy and unrealistic, only to slip right into those very same clichés by the end of the film.

Worth seeing?
Friends with Benefits is a hugely enjoyable romantic comedy that succeeds thanks to a genuinely funny script and terrific chemistry between its two stars. Highly recommended.

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Friends with Benefits (15)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 01:28

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