Friends With Benefits [2011] ★★

Admit it: You’ve seen that same story about a guy and a girl who say they’re just in it for the sex  so many times before and better. So why try to deny it? Yet as soon as it opens, “Friends With Benefits” wants you to know that you’re in for something completely different than all those stupid Hollywood movies. What’s more, there’s a scene where both Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are watching a parody of that kind of film on T.V. But hey guess what? FWB really IS one of those Hollywood romantic comedies, and soon enough, both characters become slaves to the clichés they mean to criticize. You already know how this one goes (since we’ve all seen “No Strings Attached” earlier this year): Timberlake’s Dylan is an art director working in New York. Kunis’s Jamie is the headhunter who got him the job. They both click after their first meeting, but agree to a sex-only relationship. Dylan has some serious intimacy issues (I could swear he was gay), while Jamie has a mother who won’t even tell who her real father is. You know the drill. Someone always end up getting hurt. I’ll say no more, except that Timberlake and Kunis are pleasant to watch, and make this otherwise predictable comedy a lot more fun than it looks. What’s more, the supporting cast is peppered with some interesting and colorful characters, including a very funny Woody Harrelson as one Timberlake’s pals, and Patricia Clarkson as Kunis’s crazy mom. Director Will Gluck, who wrote the script with Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, loves making movie references. That’s pretty clever at first, but as soon as I saw a framed poster hanging over Jamie’s bed, I got distracted, and tried to figure out the name of the movie. Later on, I realized it was Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night”. No one can deny the director’s good taste in movies, but I just wish the people involved in this had produced a more original, or memorable film. But hey, it is a 21st century Hollywood movie after all. We shouldn’t expect miracles.

Rating: 2/4

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