Friends with Benefits: like a vulgar kitten

Posted: Updated:

Friends with Benefits” undresses 3 Red Vines for being dirty fun

I am sure it’s a feat attempted by every generation in youthful bloom: sex without complications.  That might be accomplished with a one night stand but regular sex with a friend?  Not so easy. 

In “Friends with Benefits”, Dylan (Justin Timberlake) is recruited by headhunter Jamie (Mila Kunis) for a big time job at GQ magazine in NYC.  While most people would jump at the chance for such an opportunity, Dylan really isn’t all that jazzed.  Dumbfounded, Jamie embarks on her own personal ‘I love New York’ tour in an effort to win Dylan over.  I was a little surprised that what does the trick is being surrounded by a flash mob.  Dylan is mesmerized as he has never seen or apparently even heard of one before.  My question is how is that even possible?

It seems like so many romantic comedies start out forced.  Sadly, “Friends with Benefits” is no different.  Fortunately, the movie doesn’t take long to hit its stride.  Almost as long as it takes the new friends to make their platonic relationship physical.  But is it really a surprise to anyone that two cute, young people, hungry for love and companionship find themselves more emotionally involved than they bargained for?

The movie is billed as a fresh spin on romantic comedies but while the plot takes a meandering way to get there, it really is pretty predictable, complete with a Hollywood, ‘Hollywood ending.’  What is fresh are raunchy sex scenes, crude bathroom humor and four letter words a plenty, one so foul I have never heard it on screen before!  Was it funny?  Most definitely.  But I did feel “Friends with Benefits” relied on shock value for laughs more than it should have.

Timberlake and Kunis have great chemistry and they are more than physically cute, their characters are very sweet and likable, too.  It’s what makes all the vulgarity so downright acceptable.  Their sexual encounters are more like hilarious technique lessons.  Timberlake exhibits total abandon as he continues to grow into a credible actor.  He had great comedic timing as well as heartfelt tenderness.  At times Kunis reminded me of a young Sandra Bullock in her goofy exuberance.  They are perfectly matched.

Kudos also have to go to Patricia Clarkson as Kunis’ crazy flower power mother while Richard Jenkins gives yet another touching, effortless performance as Timberlake’s Alzheimer’s afflicted dad.

Crude, cute, sentimental and ultimately funny, “Friends with Benefits” ain’t your Mom and Dad’s “When Harry Met Sally”!