The romantic comedy should be one of the hardest genres to make into a successful movie. Why? Because everyone who comes to the movie already knows how it is going to end. How do you get people coming back, again and again to see a movie that contains no surprises? The answer is simple: generally, people like happy endings. That’s why many people come to the movies in the first place. The difference between a successful romantic comedy vs. an unsuccessful one is that you need characters to root for and a lot of laughs in-between. “Friends with Benefits” not only succeeds beautifully, but takes the whole romantic comedy genre and turns it on its ear!
Dylan (Justin Timberlake) who lives in California and Jamie (Mila Kunis) who lives in New York City have both just been dumped by their significant others; another bad relationship in the books. Dylan decides to make a big change in his life and moves to New York where Jamie is a headhunter who finds him a new great job. The two become fast friends who are just sick of the “whole relationship thing” once sex becomes involved. Dylan and Jamie agree to have a purely physical relationship; just sex, no emotion. You can imagine how that works out.
It doesn’t matter what you imagine, you would never dream “Friends with Benefits” could be so funny! The movie is fun, it’s sexy, and many of the laughs are not even sex jokes. They throw a lot of quick jokes into the movie to keep you laughing throughout. Along the way they even throw in a few real heartfelt moments and make some pretty smart observations about the romantic comedy genre.
“Friends with Benefits” certainly succeeds in giving us some characters to root for, and a large reason for that is the casting of Timberlake and Kunis. The two have amazing chemistry on screen. They’re having fun and we have fun with them. They are not perfect people. They have flaws, but that’s what audiences want! How can audiences identify with the perfect people? You are more likely to root against them then for them.
Justin Timberlake is really starting to show off some real acting skills. He has no problem making fun of himself and puts great faith and trust in director Will Gluck to really put him out there. There is a great supporting cast too. Recent Lifetime Achievement Award winner at the Palm Beach International Film Festival, Richard Jenkins, shows he can be a load of laughs one second and deliver a powerful performance the next. Jenna Elfman brings some great heart to the movie and Woody Harrelson steals almost every scene he is in.
“Friends with Benefits” may be too smart for its own good. There are moments in the movie where you don’t know if you should laugh. Is the movie still parodying itself or is it falling victim to the same trappings that other romantic comedies do? That’s something to talk about after the movie is over IF you can pick up on it.
“Friends with Benefits” would make a great night out with your date, friends or, of course, your friend with benefits. It is also funny how the movie Natalie Portman did after “Black Swan” was “No Strings Attached” and her co-star Mila Kunis next did “Friends with Benefits”, since the two had similar storylines. Mila may have been Natalie Portman’s understudy in “Black Swan”, but Mila Kunis is now in the better movie of the two. “Friends with Benefits” is rated R for nudity (Hello, Justin Timberlake’s butt!), strong sexual content and language.