Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Ludacris, Lake Bell
Review: The level of disappointment when seeing a talented director fail is extremely high. Nothing is worse than seeing a director you enjoy, as well as actors you enjoy, get together to create a horrific stinkbomb. ‘No Strings Attached’ is just that case. I have been a fan of Ivan Reitman ever since ‘Ghostbusters’ which remains one of my most beloved movies of all time to this day. However, here he falls flat on his face.
With movies like ‘Stripes,’ ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘Twins,’ and ‘Six Days, Seven Nights,’ to his credit you expect more from someone with the clout and pedigree of Ivan Reitman. Throughout his career, Reitman has done more as a producer and his list of films he has directed is small in comparison. This would lead one to believe that Reitman chooses the films he directs very carefully. He is not given much to work with in this movie but doesn’t try to make much of it either.
‘No Strings Attached’ tries to answer the age old question between males and females of can a relationship exist that just consists of just sex and not have feelings get involved. Sex is an integral part of the human existence and feelings can be messy, so for Emma (Portman) and Adam (Kutcher), two young adults busy with their lives, it makes sense to try to meet their physical needs without trying to be tied down to each other on an emotional level. This way neither feels obligated to the other and they don’t have to be hurt when other love interests come into play.
This has been attempted by many men and women, both in real life and on film, and it never seems to work out. Ultimately, sex is a physical expression of the love you feel for another person and they go hand in hand. To try to separate the two often leads to issues. The film tries to capture these issues but falls short.
Adam walks around and whines to his friends about not being in a true relationship while Emma contends that she is much too busy for a relationship and she doesn’t have to settle down in her life right now. She is fine with where she is and sees no reason to change who she is or where she is in her life. This never goes beyond whining for Adam or playing ‘too strong to care’ by Emma. They never look to each other or their friends to try and get a grip on the ramifications of their relationship choices. They don’t dwell on the possibility of losing the friendship they once had, they don’t talk about the moral repercussions and possible damage to future relationships they are doing with their current situation, they don’t delve any deeper than the surface level of Adam thinking “Emma is hot and I want to date her,” and Emma thinking “I don’t need a man in my life right now, I’m a doctor and busy a lot.” Very deep.
This predicament often times leads to people searching within themselves to find the answers they need. Being in this type of a relationship often makes people decide for themselves what they really want. If they end up exclusively dating the person they have this relationship with it is because they have actively chosen that person and have decided that is what they want in their life. They feel they are better off in that scenario. This realization is never had, this decision is never made, our characters are not better off and neither are we.
The writing here is blatantly awful. The film is written with the expertise of someone who has seen ‘When Harry Met Sally’ enough times to think they know how to dissect relationships. Problem is, ‘When Harry Met Sally’ is actually smart and it goes deeper in its evaluation of relationships and what people want out of relationships. This movie is not smart. There are no reflections, no revelations, and we are pounded in the head with this lack of depth by cheesy lines uttered by the main characters (“don’t come any closer, (crying) cause if you do I’m never letting you go”).
Natalie Portman no doubt has great acting chops as she has already won an Oscar at the ripe age of 30. She has the talent and the eye for starring roles that could turn her into one of the best actresses of my generation. Her talent shines through at points in this film as she declares she is too good for this material, but she is here anyway. She is brought down by the source material and possibly she was just looking for something easy and a paycheck to come down from the emotional rollercoaster that was ‘Black Swan.’ Either way, she is out of place in this movie of actors who have A-list physical features and D-list talent (with the exception of Ludacris, who I think actually has some talent as an actor and delivers the best line of the film).
This movie was an awful experience from the opening montage of Adam drunkenly calling every girl in his phone to try to hook up, to the very end with cheesy lines thrown all around. I am worse off for having seen this movie and it will never be worth your time, with the possible exception of wanting to see Portman scantily clad, but if that’s the case, just go see ‘Black Swan’ and you will get much more of your money’s worth.