No Strings Attached

Darn it, I didn’t want to like this movie.  I’ve got a long-standing grudge against Ashton Kutcher ever since an early run-in shortly after I’d moved to LA.  On the other hand, I do like Natalie Portman, so I gave it a chance.  Surprise, surprise, not only did I like it–but Portman’s character (Emma) was the weak link (for me).

This isn’t to say that Portman does a bad job.  I think she’s pretty good at being desirable and distant at the same time.  My problem with her character is that she feels forcibly quirky.  In “Garden State,” a movie I really like, Natalie Portman played a lovable weirdo and it totally worked.  I wanted to date her character.  But the writers here just seemed to decide to make her “quirky,” so they gave her a few random bizarre things to say and do.  Somehow nobody comments on this behavior, and instead of coming off as quirky, it makes her seem psychologically damaged.

But as for the overall movie–it’s pretty funny.  I laughed several times.  And Kutcher (playing Adam) was fine.  His character is written to be likable, and he was.  My favorite part of the whole movie though, is the supporting cast*.  Adam’s friends are actually welcome on screen, instead of the usual annoying sidekicks.  Emma’s roommates are similarly appealing.  Kevin Kline plays Adam’s dad, and Lake Bell plays his boss.  Bell is great.  I’ve liked her since her one-season TV show, “Surface.”

Which brings me back to my original complaint, that Emma is not the most likable character.  Late in the movie, I was rooting for Adam to get together with Lake Bell’s character, leaving Emma behind, and hopefully teaching her a valuable life lesson about not being so distant towards people.

However, it’s still a Hollywood movie, and they play things pretty safe.  I was disappointed they didn’t have a bolder ending, but then again, it wasn’t made for my demographic.  But what it lacks in creativity, it mostly makes up for in execution.

*In the strangest casting in years, Cary Elwes, the Dread Pirate Roberts himself, plays a doctor at the hospital where Emma works.  He’s in a total of 3 scenes in the background, has approximately 2 lines in one of those scenes, and looks suicidal in his other two scenes.  His agent should be fired for this.

Ryan S. Davis

I love board games, thrill rides and travel. I'm happy to watch and review all kinds of movies, from mainstream blockbusters to art house indies. As a Warner Bros. employee, I'm privileged with a glimpse of Hollywood many don't see, but my opinions here are my own and not representative of the company.

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4 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    We saw it at Gold Class Cinemas on my birthday. I wouldn’t have seen it had I wanted to see ANYTHING ELSE that was playing there that day. But, we enjoyed it. I’d give it a 7.5-8. (But, admittedly I am a girl who likes her rom-coms.) I also asked M “Is that Cary Elwes?” And he answered, no… no. Couldn’t be. TOTALLY WAS. He looked like a fat scruffy version of Westley.

    I was mostly looking at the female characters trying to figure out which one I was most like, knowing I wasn’t Portman’s, but not really wanting to be Lake Bell either. M says I was more like the blonde roommate Patrice (Greta Gerwig.)

    I’m guessing Elwes had more lines, but was cut.

    • Ryan S. Davis says:

      It’s very likely there was a whole subplot involving Elwes. But what’s left is just embarrassing for him.

  2. Symplectic Slacker says:

    I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I was intrigued by the previews of the scantily clad Portman. How good would this movie be if it were muted?

    • Ryan S. Davis says:

      Not very good. It’s rated R for language and adult content, not nudity. There are a few post-sex scenes, but she’s inevitably covered by a sheet or shirt, except one time for a fraction of a second when she gets out of bed. You’ll get quite an eyeful of Ashton’s butt though.

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