“Friends with Benefits” premiered this weekend on Starz. It’s last year’s romantic/sex comedy starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake.
Kunis plays a professional head-hunter who successfully recruits a web editor (Justin Timberlake) for GQ magazine. As she’s the only person he knows in New York, the two stay connected even after the employment contract is finalized.
Each of them have recently experienced romantic difficulties and both are frustrated with the very concept of romance. Yet they both still pine for sex…
Whatsoever shall they do?
The movie opens with both Kunis and Timberlake suffering through fairly miserable break-ups (featuring fun cameos from Andy Samberg and Emma Stone). It sets the tone for why they’re each soured on the idea of romantic relationships. So when they begin to become friends, they each have an excuse to ignore the romantic possibilities. One night, however, their discussion leads to sex, and they wonder why it has to be burdened with emotional complications, etc.
It’s the age old, “why can’t people have sex, but just be friends” conundrum.
This leads to the two making an agreement to have sex, while remaining romantically unattached to each other. “Friends With Benefits”. Once the two begin hooking up, though, they find that the lack of emotional attachment actually improves the experience. Now that the fear of hurting the other person’s feelings is removed from the equation, they feel completely open about telling the other exactly what they want out of sex. What winds up happening is that they both teach each other how to be their ideal sexual partner… and of course, that leads to them hooking up even more frequently.
When the time comes to actually test the “we can still stay friends” aspect of the agreement by starting to date other people, however, the flaws in the plan begin to show. They realize that they’ve actually begun developing feelings for each other. Of course this leads to gross overreactions on both of their parts, as they push each other away in continued denial of their own feelings.
There’s a couple of gags here that don’t really work for me, and an ancillary character or two the movie would probably be better off without. Although Woody Harrelson was really funny as Timberlake’s gay co-worker.
For the most part, though, the jokes are really funny and Kunis and Timberlake play off of each other really well. Kunis, especially, is fantastic here. It’s also not quite just your standard rom-com as the sexual aspect of the scenario leads to plenty of sexual humor. At the end of the day, it IS a rom-com, with Kunis and Timberlake fighting through their own baggage in a “Their own worst enemy” kind of way before finally coming to grips… But I enjoyed it well enough.
More Com than Rom, plus plenty of dirty jokes along the way!