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.