[Rating: 2] 

The plot, Juicy. The cast, Juicier. The movie, well lets just say… the juice has taste but looses the punch.  

Director:  Will Gluck
Cast & Crew: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Patricia Clarkson & Woody Harrelson
Plot Summary: Headhunter (Mila Kunis), convinces a new hotshot art director (Justin Timberlake), to move from LA to the Big Apple for work. He takes the job, they become friends, both are freshly out of breakups. Their budding camaraderie leads them to sex without any emotional hang-ups. They do manage to keep things uncomplicated and fun.
How emotions get rolled into the mix and puts their ‘well-laid’ plans to rest is something you gotta find out.

The movie hits a bulls eye on its casting. Who better to put in between the sheets than the sultry ‘Mila Kunis’ of the Black Swan fame, and bringing the sexy back, ‘Justin Timberlake’. Yes girls, eat your hearts out and boys keep your zippers up. That is the USP of the film and the couple lives up to the Oomph! The odd chemistry between the leads makes for an interesting watch and is also the saving grace of the movie. This is a new age phenomena that is quite rampant and the characters in the film are easy to relate to.

Spoiler Alert: The movie’s length in India is 10 minutes lesser than the rest of the world. That’s coz all the sex scenes are cut short by our morality bound censor board (even after giving this movie an Adult rating). God bless them and may they get a life. Amen.
Mila Kunis plays her character to the tee. A vivaciously goofy, fun girl and a tactful corporate professional. She is a sensitive girl hiding her emotional needs under the shell of a brash New Yorker. Her character ‘Jamie’ is extremely contemporary in her approach but still wishes for a clichÈd prince charming. Now how many times have we seen that…hmmm. Though Mila’s small nuances to her performance make for a loving character. Her character might be a little goofy but she still ups the sexiness quotient.

Justin Timberlake’s character ‘Dylan’ is an emotional guy and yet a focused Media art director. He has had his share of being a good guy, relationship types and now wants something less emotionally draining so he can also focus on his career.
Justin’s character has lot more layers, which open with the revelation of his family. But he fizzles out too early in certain scenes that require serious concentration and an elongated performance. No, these aren’t the sex scenes, he’s good in those and keeps it funny but I’m talking about the scenes that require serious emotional expression.

The movie starts off as a fun journey and the pace is maintained pretty well. ‘Woody Harrelson’ who plays a wacked out, excited gay man at Justin Timberlake’s office and ‘Patricia Clarkson’ who plays Mila Kunis’s 70’s groupie mum, make for some funny moments with their impeccable comic timing.

But soon the movie runs into age-old clichÈ’s that start taking away from the fun and sexy rom-com it was set out to be. Yes it is predictable that they will fall in love eventually, but in the second half, the bombardment of Hollywood clichÈ makes the film loose.
Like both of them watching the same romantic movie to realize their true feelings, guy looking for the girl and then finally finding her at their favorite spot etc etc. It all seems like we have seen bits and pieces like this before.

You would want it to remain fun and playful through out, but rather the movie drifts away and becomes emotionally overwhelming yet unromantic by the end. The director who is also the writer, makes it from ‘Sex and fun’ in the first half to ‘Love actually’ by the second half.

He brings in ‘Jenna Elfman’ as Timberlake’s righteous reliable big sister and then an Alzheimer’s stricken dad who guides his son to chase his true love. Suddenly you are lost and feel “Am I still watching a movie called friends with benefits”
There has been a notable outflow of movies on similar themes in the last few months. ‘No strings attached’ with Ashton & Natalie. ‘Love and other Drugs’ with Anne and Jake. ‘Friends with Benefits’ does manage to keep it different due the likable leads and a different a plot, but does fizzle out in the second half.

Watch this with friends of the opposite sex, if you want to plant the same thought into their heads. It’s a decent one-time watch but don’t expect something special…not even some sizzling love making scenes (they are cut remember).

Verdict: For the ladies, it will manage to put a smile on your face for most of it, especially if you’re a rom-com lover. For guys, Mila Kunis is reason enough to watch it.    

Aditya Gupta

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