No Strings Attached (2011) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The latest from heralded veteran director Ivan Reitman is a misguided so-called romantic comedy (term used loosely here), featuring two leads will very little chemistry. Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman are Adam and Emma friends who believe they can maintain a strictly physical relationship without emotional attachments. Of course one becomes enamored with the other and wants more while the partner pulls away only to come to their senses in a soppy final scene. The only novel twist in the entire script is that Emma is the one who is constantly talking Adam out of a relationship. Usually in stereotypical Hollywood writing it’s the female that longs for the security of partnership so credit must be given for at least mixing things up. Unfortunately every other aspect of the story is trite. Most developments are so telegraphed that set-ups established early on have no real payoff on an emotional or comedic level.

The only thing saving this from being a total bomb is the presence of Kevin Kline in an out-of-left field comedic performance that is truly the only funny thing in the film. Playing the aging Lothario still trying to stay relevant while dating twenty-somethings; he steals every scene with precision timing and sly wit not seen since A Fish called Wanda. It’s hard to imagine what attracted Portman to this unsympathetic and mean-spirited character, especially after Black Swan. Whatever the case may have been there is no denying she is seriously miscast here. Portman is an actress that radiates intelligence watching her dumb down to the role is a vaguely depressing experience.

Ghostbusters seems a long time ago and it’s been many years since Reitman has made a good film. In recent times his son Jason’s work (Juno, Up in the Air) has been meet with the kind of critical and commercial success that eluded Senior for the majority of his career. This is a disappointing product that has the stench of screenwriters trying to convince one another that this is how twenty year olds really talk. No Strings Attached is harmless and undistinguished film from a group of talented individuals that will no doubt go on to make better films in the future.

Director: Ivan Reitman
Stars: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline

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