There is the everlasting argument floating around the Internet that romantic comedies (romcoms) are the equivalent of porn films for women. The case centers around the assessment that romantic comedies create a fantasy about relationships, as does porn, but that instead of focusing on sex, romantic comedies focus on emotions, thus appealing to the female gender.
The movie Friends with Benefits is a romantic comedy about sex, and therefore attempts to satisfy both aspects of the love life fantasy.
In Friends with Benefits, actors Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis play Dylan and Jamie, two friends/coworkers who try to avoid the unrealistic emotional expectation of romcoms. After being broken up by their respective exes (Andy Sandberg and Emma Stone), they decide that they can no longer play into the relationship fantasy and proclaim to each other “I’m emotionally unavailable. I’m emotionally damaged!”
Dylan and Jamie decide to ditch the relationship and focus only on sex by becoming friends with benefits. They swear to never get emotionally involved with each other as they release tension through sex.
However, they soon find out that some of the complicated emotional ties found in romantic comedies can’t be avoided in real life. Recap: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, sex, complicated love story. I don’t think there needs to be anymore reflection on why this movie is a winner.
Although I’m not sure how ‘real life’ their situation really is, and if either Jamie or Dylan knew anything about romantic comedies they could have seen the inevitability of falling in love.
This film is completely brimming with romantic comedy clichés. There is the gay best friend (Woody Harrelson), and an unconventional mother (Patricia Clarkson). Both characters work for a high profile fashion magazine. There is the ‘meet the family/fall in love’ scene and miscommunications that lead to professing their love for each other which, of course, occurs in a last-minute make-or-break situation as one character is about to leave forever.
And if these clichés didn’t clue the characters in enough, one of them could have watched the movie No Strings Attached that hit the screens six months earlier. For that matter, we all could have watched No Strings Attached six months earlier.
When it comes down to it, Friends with Benefits is your standard romantic comedy. There are cute one-liners, quick-witted banter, awkward and somewhat unrealistic relationships and that passionate kiss and certain sort of eye gazing that make girls squirm in their seat and giggle in attempt to break the on-screen tension.
The acting is above par for the genre, as it should be, considering the experience both Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis have in the genre. While watching it, I didn’t get the feeling that either star relied on the amount of skin showing on their exquisite bodies throughout the film to make up for a lack of chemistry or character depth, which automatically sets it above most romcoms these days.
I don’t think Friends with Benefits will make the ranks of Pretty Woman, Never Been Kissed or When Harry Met Sally but it will still make you say ‘aww.’
So if you’re in the mood to curl up in a blanket, eat ice cream with your friends and trade your own love life for a fictional character’s, then Friends with Benefits makes a solid addition to the romantic comedy collection. I give this movie three out of five stars.