I think I would’ve liked Friends With Benefits a bit more if it weren’t quite so smug. It makes fun of, among other things, John Mayer, chick flicks, Third Eye Blind, and Katherine Heigl. But at its heart, it really is just a chick flick itself—a pretty than decent one, but hardly a game changer. I wanted to say to the film, “Dude, get over yourself.”
The title of the film says it all (and how this film managed to snag that title while the similary-themed Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher header got saddled with the forgettable No Strings Attached is one of the great rom-com mysteries): Mila Kunis is a headhunter who recruits art director Justin Timberlake to New York (from L.A.) for a job at GQ. They become friends, then both craving a little uncomplicated sex, decide to become friends with benefits. Exactly what you expect to happen happens (game changer!).
So the question on everyone’s lips: Can Justin Timberlake carry a movie? The answer. Sure. He’s good. Not great. He’s the Topher Grace of movie stars but the Justin Timberlake of pop stars—if you get my drift.
The real revelation is Mila Kunis, who just keeps getting better and better. Beautiful, funny, oozing charisma—now she’s the Justin Timberlake of movie stars. (Uh, should I have said Lady Gaga?).
Friends With Benefits is enjoyable precisely because it’s fun to hang out with two comely, likable people for a couple of hours—especially when they keep taking their clothes off. Actors too good for this project—Richard Jenkins (as his ailing father) and Patricia Clarkson (as her flighty mother)—up the film’s overall pedigree.
It’s cute. It’s fun. It’s forgettable. Come to think of it, a lot like a John Mayer CD.