Latest Movie News Headlines

Review: No Strings Attached

Jan. 21, 2011by: Genevieve Blaber

PLOT: Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) are friends who decide to enter into a sex-only relationship. Of course, love complicates the matter with one of the two predictably falling in love with the other despite their strict rules against such tom-foolery.

REVIEW: Itís been awhile since Iíve seen a new romantic comedy that I could watch -- nay endure. Sure there have been great movies wherein the rom-com is shoe-horned into a different genre altogether -- hello, ZOMBIELAND! -- but a real-deal rom-com thatís just unapologetically about love and relationships? Itís been awhile.

Much to my surprise, NO STRINGS ATTACHED has put an end to that desert of emotion. Sure, you quickly and rightly suspect that stars Natalie Portman (Emma) and Ashton Kutcher (Adam) will end up together, but the movie makes up for any predictability by adding a dash of realism that calls the genre on its propensity to b.s. the audience into believing relationships, make-ups, and break-ups are so simple.

Whatís most refreshing about NO STRINGS ATTACHED is that itís a romantic comedy about two grown-ups who act like self-fulfilled adults. Tired of the rom-com staple of a leading lady who must choose between her job and love because her workaholic ways keep her from realizing that her ladyparts need some attention of their own? Gone. In its place is Portman portraying a medical intern who has a firm hold of her work and life; sheís just afraid of relationships because breaking-up hurts. As for the other rom-com cliche of the leading man whoís equal parts manly man and man-child, heís replaced by Kutcher as a production assistant/aspiring staff writer on a Glee-knock-off who is also smart and has a hold on his life -- well, except when it comes to getting out from under his fatherís shadow. Theyíre just two normal people dealing with love and how terrifying it is, while the laughs come from their reactions and interactions with friends.

Now, I know what youíre thinking. Youíre thinking I have no taste because a. youíve seen the trailers and theyíre horrible and b. Iím a woman. Well, hereís why youíre wrong: for reasons I donít understand, whomever was in charge of cutting the trailers did a terrible job. Dialogue from different parts of the movie and cut scenes seem to have been pieced together to create lines that never happened (but which youíd expect of cliche rom-coms) and some scenes in the trailer just have completely different dialogue playing over them -- stuff that doesnít happen in the movie. Whatever movie the trailers are advertising, I hate. But NO STRINGS ATTACHED, I loved. As for your second thought, which is that you canít trust my opinion because Iím a woman... well, if you think that then youíre probably right. If youíre the type of person to write off my opinion because Iím a woman, youíll never understand what it is about NO STRINGS ATTACHED female-sympathetic perspective that makes it so great and so real.

Portman redefines adorable in a role that could have devolved into a one-note ďMagical Pixie Dream GirlĒ but which she plays with nuance and brash gusto for life. If you donít love her reenactment of a man standing in a room waving his penis around while shouting, then you must not love much in life. As for Kutcher, heís charmingly likable without coming off as too-stupid-to-live or too-douchey-to-date. Itís hard not to feel like, halfway through the film, you really are watching two people fall in love, or rather try not to, thanks to the pairís budding chemistry.

The rest of the cast balances out the film, without taking too much away from the main story at hand. Mindy Kaling is sexy and fun as one of Emmaís roomies/fellow interns and Lake Bell steals the show as a high-strung potential love interest.

For me, as a woman, it was satisfying and heart-warming to finally watch a rom-com that was sympathetic to women and the way we view relationships, which is not how 80 percent of rom-coms like to think we do -- and yes, plenty of female screenwriters have been guilty of perpetuating myths and made-up rules about women and love (e.g. you can only have career success or a man to love). Still, it was great to see a film that was fun, funny, and feminist. Emma gets to stay a doctor and get the guy she loves? Yes! Adam isnít a man-child that Emma has to babysit for the rest of her life? Hurrah! They both love each other and respect each other? Cheers!

I do have my critiques of the film, though. Sometimes I felt that NO STRINGS ATTACHED pulled a few of its punches, stopping just short of being the movie it could be in the first half. But at some point after, the film went for it and took me along for the ride. There also could have been a bit more Cary Elwes (but I hold that opinion about every movie heís in) as the respected doctor at Emmaís hospital, and more of Kaling and Emmaís other roommate, Guy (Guy Branum). While not a perfect film, and not the best romantic comedy in history, NO STRINGS ATTACHED is a change of pace that reminds me the genre is anything but dead or cliche past the point of return.

Source: JoBlo.com

Related Articles

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

11:58AM on 01/23/2011

eh...

Can we get a new, gender-neutral review? I can't trust a review that repeats "I'm a woman" every other sentence. That tells me this review apparently wasn't meant for me, because apparently men and women can't watch movies the same way (or at least not men and this woman). And besides, what is JoBlo's target demographic, anyway?
Can we get a new, gender-neutral review? I can't trust a review that repeats "I'm a woman" every other sentence. That tells me this review apparently wasn't meant for me, because apparently men and women can't watch movies the same way (or at least not men and this woman). And besides, what is JoBlo's target demographic, anyway?
Your Reply:



2:30PM on 01/22/2011
Is it just me or does Crazy Dud sound like she might go Lorena Bobbitt some guy anytime now?
Is it just me or does Crazy Dud sound like she might go Lorena Bobbitt some guy anytime now?
Your Reply:



1:33AM on 01/22/2011

why do they let a woman review these bullshit movies?

This is like reading a Twilight review by a 14 year old girl, and you basically write your own review away by your little segment about why we won't "trust" you.
This is like reading a Twilight review by a 14 year old girl, and you basically write your own review away by your little segment about why we won't "trust" you.
Your Reply:



5:10AM on 01/22/2011
Um . . . why did we let a man review The Expendables? I mean talk about a double standard, Mr. Obviously Sexist.
Um . . . why did we let a man review The Expendables? I mean talk about a double standard, Mr. Obviously Sexist.
11:48PM on 01/21/2011
one thing that isnt addressed in the review...How is Ashton's acting? does he play the same type of character he usually plays or do we see a cool, layed back character?
I am not a Ashton fan, but if I do end up seeing this movie, I want to know what to expect.
one thing that isnt addressed in the review...How is Ashton's acting? does he play the same type of character he usually plays or do we see a cool, layed back character?
I am not a Ashton fan, but if I do end up seeing this movie, I want to know what to expect.
Your Reply:



9:55PM on 01/21/2011

I'm a woman....

and this is wildly disrespectful.
"which is that you canít trust my opinion because Iím a woman." Maybe next time specify we can't trust your opinion ON A ROMCOM because you're a woman...And I'm a woman and I expect people should value my opinion anyway. Unless we actually are in 1956.

And let's see, as for Rom-coms that meet your "feminist" requirements recently, I'm gonna point out::
- Going the Distance
- How Do You Know?
both of which have strong females who pursue their careers
and this is wildly disrespectful.
"which is that you canít trust my opinion because Iím a woman." Maybe next time specify we can't trust your opinion ON A ROMCOM because you're a woman...And I'm a woman and I expect people should value my opinion anyway. Unless we actually are in 1956.

And let's see, as for Rom-coms that meet your "feminist" requirements recently, I'm gonna point out::
- Going the Distance
- How Do You Know?
both of which have strong females who pursue their careers and men at the same time.
So thanks for setting us back 40 years by overstating your womanhood.
Your Reply:



11:51AM on 01/23/2011
I get your point, but do you really think this article "set us back 40 years"? Wow.
I get your point, but do you really think this article "set us back 40 years"? Wow.
+0
9:52PM on 01/21/2011

..

wrong headline
wrong headline
Your Reply:



3:20PM on 01/21/2011
And a women wrote the script...

Still, I don't see either character acting very much like "self-fulfilled adults" but I'm a guy. At least not in my part of the world...
And a women wrote the script...

Still, I don't see either character acting very much like "self-fulfilled adults" but I'm a guy. At least not in my part of the world...
Your Reply:



+16
2:00PM on 01/21/2011

We get it!

You are a woman. You don't need to specify in every other paragraph to support your opinion that this is a "good" film. And ZOMBIELAND as a rom-com? Ya, you lost me right there. Everyone knows that right now is total Portman time, but seriously, if anyone does like this movie, it'll be the first time for Kutcher since Butterfly Effect. Not to be disrespectful but a review should be unbiased without the usage of race or sex to clarify why a poorly received movie is a good one. It's like saying
You are a woman. You don't need to specify in every other paragraph to support your opinion that this is a "good" film. And ZOMBIELAND as a rom-com? Ya, you lost me right there. Everyone knows that right now is total Portman time, but seriously, if anyone does like this movie, it'll be the first time for Kutcher since Butterfly Effect. Not to be disrespectful but a review should be unbiased without the usage of race or sex to clarify why a poorly received movie is a good one. It's like saying that since I'm a man, every action movie is an epic and has great storytelling, like The Expendables.
Your Reply:



5:08AM on 01/22/2011
People will inevitably bring up the fact that she's a woman, something that won't necessarily happen to a male reviewer. That's why she mentions it. Apparently you're unaware of female social realities in the U.S.
People will inevitably bring up the fact that she's a woman, something that won't necessarily happen to a male reviewer. That's why she mentions it. Apparently you're unaware of female social realities in the U.S.
10:57AM on 01/22/2011
Ummm, I read her other reviews and she keeps doing it and there is NO need for it. And for the record, go read The Final Girls review 2 spots above of me,She hits the nail on the head. It was a HORRIBLE review that itself demeaned women, so before you bust the chops of males on here (which you apparently have already) Read the facts, she is a HORRIBLE reviewer and needs to keep her sex out of it just like guys should too. If you haven't been following me, I hate it that the only reason some
Ummm, I read her other reviews and she keeps doing it and there is NO need for it. And for the record, go read The Final Girls review 2 spots above of me,She hits the nail on the head. It was a HORRIBLE review that itself demeaned women, so before you bust the chops of males on here (which you apparently have already) Read the facts, she is a HORRIBLE reviewer and needs to keep her sex out of it just like guys should too. If you haven't been following me, I hate it that the only reason some people LOVE Black Swan was because there is a lesbian sex scene and all that. I attacked that issue so I get on both sides. But seriously, tell me of the female social realities that you think no one here knows of. Thanks
-4
1:42PM on 01/21/2011

hmmm

Because of Portman this is a rom-com that i'm actually interested in seeing as opposed to being forced to see by my significant other.
Because of Portman this is a rom-com that i'm actually interested in seeing as opposed to being forced to see by my significant other.
Your Reply:



9:33AM on 01/21/2011
Great review. I'm glad to hear that this is not the typical, sexist, pandering, propaganda chick flick. I love when romantic comedies take the difficult route and actually write compelling characters in realistic situations. I hope this is more The Break Up and less The Ugly Truth. And the fact that JoBlo offered reviews from both male and female perspectives is one one the reasons I come to this site.

We need more Genevieve Blaber reviews on JoBlo!!
Great review. I'm glad to hear that this is not the typical, sexist, pandering, propaganda chick flick. I love when romantic comedies take the difficult route and actually write compelling characters in realistic situations. I hope this is more The Break Up and less The Ugly Truth. And the fact that JoBlo offered reviews from both male and female perspectives is one one the reasons I come to this site.

We need more Genevieve Blaber reviews on JoBlo!!
Your Reply:



+4
9:25AM on 01/21/2011
Did the score rating change?
Did the score rating change?
Your Reply:



11:19AM on 01/21/2011
Yeah, it did. It was a 9. I think that was just an accident.
Yeah, it did. It was a 9. I think that was just an accident.
8:56AM on 01/21/2011
Weird, on the day I read my first review of this, which is positive AND written by a woman at that, I also find out for the first time it was directed by Ivan Reitman. Am I actually considering putting this in my Netflix Q . . . ?
Weird, on the day I read my first review of this, which is positive AND written by a woman at that, I also find out for the first time it was directed by Ivan Reitman. Am I actually considering putting this in my Netflix Q . . . ?
Your Reply:



8:54AM on 01/21/2011
WTF an Ahston Kutcher film a 9 out of 10. you gotta be shittin me?
WTF an Ahston Kutcher film a 9 out of 10. you gotta be shittin me?
Your Reply:



8:28AM on 01/21/2011
good to hear that it's not your usual rom-com, since i'll probably see this for portman and don't want to go through too much pain.

on the other hand, altough i got that the film was good, i was completely surprised when i reached the bottom of the page to see that it got a 9. from what i read in the text it sounded more like a 7/8
good to hear that it's not your usual rom-com, since i'll probably see this for portman and don't want to go through too much pain.

on the other hand, altough i got that the film was good, i was completely surprised when i reached the bottom of the page to see that it got a 9. from what i read in the text it sounded more like a 7/8
Your Reply:



1:35AM on 01/22/2011
yeah, and twilight fans say twilight is a great movie....you trust them too?
yeah, and twilight fans say twilight is a great movie....you trust them too?