Friends With Benefits review

Posted on 11 September 2011
By Andy Johnson
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Friends With Benefits’ biggest advantage is the potential humour in exposing the disillusionment between real life and those awful Hollywood rom-coms starring Katherine Heigl or Gerard Butler.

The film has a few slick touches but they quickly diminish into painful moments when the production is trying too hard to be clever.

Poking fun at other rom-coms, their paper thin plot lines and schmaltzy tricks like picking uplifting pop tunes, which have nothing to do with the story and the unattainable nature of the character’s lifestyle provides perfect comic fodder.

But then Friends With Benefits does exactly the same thing. Giving the art of self-referencing a wincing blow to the gonads.

The couple spend a third of the film wrestling in bed, explicitly telling each other how to give head – but despite being treated to Trousersnake’s sculpted bumcheeks twice, the film is sadly unrealistic in its lack of nipples.

Who gets hot and sweaty but keeps the duvet wrapped around their busom? So instead of being soft porn, the flick indulges in that most heinous of recent American cultural crimes – commercial porn.

These goofy late 20/early 30 somethings are supposed to be able to command a luxury Manhattan apartment, money no object lifestyle.

Timberlake works as the Art Director of GQ Magazine and being a former national newspaper journalist, this reviewer has seen enough newsroom offices to know they do not boast deep oak mahogany furniture.

Then when they retreat to LA – Timberlake’s family live in a beach house in Malibu.

Producer/Director Will Gluck must have been blinded by product placement cash to fail to see how this will alienate most of the audience who have sacrificed their hard earned crust for two tickets to celluloid escapism.

It was obvious what we were signing up to when we went through the cinema doors, but not to be subjected to iPad and iPhone fetishism. The couple, who don’t own a Bible instead swear their ‘friends with benefits’ oath on a Bible app. Hell and damnation awaits.

The performances are just what you’d expect, with Black Swan star Mila Kunis turns in a kooky and likeable performance.

But although Timberlake is certainly comfortable in his own skin and entertaining in parts, such as giving a rendition of Kris Kross’ hit Jump.

He is often little more than a lythe clothes horse, although a dapper GQ styled one. The singer-turned actor can only deliver angry lines in one manner, something along the lines of a surprised rabbit or the kind of mock anger reserved for the playground retard.

The one bright spark of the movie is Woody Harrelson, who shines bright as the uber-gay GQ Sports Editor and steals every scene he’s in with witty one liners.

Jason Segel, who played alongside Kunis in Forgetting Sarah Marshall also makes a great cameo in a ‘rom-com within the rom-com’ on the TV show called Prince Charming. Sadly, that film would have raised more laughs.