After last year’s Easy A and now Friends with Benefits, Will Gluck has crossed over into the realm of directors whose name on a romantic comedy doesn’t make me long for a nice torture porn offering. The premise is simple. Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) are unattached friend who hit upon the idea that they should become sexually, but not romantically, involved. Now, while it’s perfectly possible that such an arrangement might work out, we know full well it’s not going to here because otherwise there’s no movie. The film knows you know this and works on that basis, and that’s part of its charm and appeal. While it’s usually a good idea to detect a whiff of rodentia when the word post-modern is evoked, here it’s another matter. Friends with Benefits is a movie that manages to have its cake and eat it, too. It has sport with the conventions of its genre while simultaneously adhering to them — subverting them at just the right moment and then knowingly using them again when that suits. It’s a very careful balancing act. The entire cast is close to perfect. Timberlake and Kunis could scarcely be better. Emma Stone has terrific scene as Timberlake’s girlfriend who dumps him because he’s late for a John Mayer concert. Patricia Clarkson (another holdover from Easy A) plays Kunis’ irresponsible, man-crazy mother, who can’t quite remember who or what Kunis’ father was, but seems pretty sure he was something “exotic.” And while it can be complained that Richard Jenkins as Timberlake’s Alzheimer-afflicted father has moments of lucidity at just the right points to suit the story, Jenkins is so good that it’s hard to mind. That pretty much describes the whole film.
Official Site: www.fwb-movie.com
Director: Will Gluck
Writer: Harley Peyton and Keith Merryman
Producer: Liz Glotzer, Will Gluck and Martin Shafer
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Richard Jenkins and Woody Harrelson
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