Friends With Benefits attempts to make fun of romantic comedies, while exploiting the same formula. It very nearly succeeds thanks to engaging performances from Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as the titular booty buddies and director Will Gluck (Easy A), who wisely opens things up with a strong supporting cast (Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Richard Jenkins and Woody Harrelson) that creates solid emotional grounding to help the high-flying contortionistic leads stick their landings in even the most unlikely and unrealistic romantic situations.
Dylan (Timberlake) and Jamie (Kunis) don’t start out as BFFs from way back.
It's almost more
intriguing to watch the mother-daughter (Clarkson and Kunis) and
father-son (Jenkins and Timberlake) than the sex-buddy vibe between
Jamie and Dylan. The actors certainly are cute and spark well enough
to generate heat, but the sexual banter tries too hard, whereas the
family interactions speak to a smarter, more adult drama reminiscent
of a recent film like The Family Stone. I, for one, wish Gluck
had traveled that path because, in the end, Friends With Benefits
suffers due to its slavish need to hook back up to the rom-com wagon
rather than wandering on down its own friendly byway. Grade: B
Opens July 22. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.