No Strings Attached review (DVD)

Reitman is the veteran director with a consistently light touch. He's helmed blockbuster hits such as Animal House and Ghostbusters, sophisticated trifles like Dave and Legal Eagles, and the dire disasters Junior and Father's Day among others, not forgetting the unfortunate My Super Ex Girlfriend too of course. He's only as good as the material he's given and what he has to work with regarding No Strings Attached isn't much. It's an amiable enough affair but totally forgettable.

Gags are sparse in this romcom starring Portman as Emma, a commitment-phobe medical trainee who hooks up with old aquaintance Adam (Kutcher) for sex sessions without any relationship trappings. Don't expect anything scurrilous - it's all very tasteful, there's a distinct lack of dirt. He goes along with this for a while but develops strong feelings for her, though she is reluctant to let things develop further.
Complications ensue. as indeed they must in a movie of this sort. When she thinks he's started seeing someone else, pangs of jealousy are arroused in her, causing her to reassess her feelings.
Reitman keeps the proceedings busy with a plethora of supporting characters to keep the flimsy narrative chugging along. Kevin Kline is Adam's dissolute, lecherous father, now conducting a relationship with Adam's ex-girlfriend, young Ophelia Lovibond. Lake Bell gives the best performance as the producer of the TV show he works for - awkwardly and charmingly trying to hide the fact that she's in love with him. Greta Gerwig (so good in last year's Greenberg) is here relegated to best friend status, helping Emma on the right track in dealing with her romantic troubles. She's wasted here of course but does a brief impersonation of Drew Barrymore that's spot on.
Reitman makes all this smoothly watchable. The two leads are likeable enough but don't seem to possess much of a sense of humour. There's no comic sensibility to their performances. They're perfectly pleasant however, but overall this is a weak effort that erases itself from the memory as soon as you've left the cinema.
Another romcom about the same subject is to be released later this year. Friends with Benefits stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. Hopefully that'll have more laughs. Reitman's movie is agreeable but anaemic. 

EXTRAS ★★½ An audio commentary with director Reitman; four deleted scenes; two alternate storyline scenes; the featurette Sex Friends: Getting Together (19:55); the featurette Inside the Sassy Halls of Secret High (10:55).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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