No Strings Attached

After the heavy dramatic lifting of Black Swan, you can't fault Oscar favorite Natalie Portman for signing up for some romcom R&R. It's too bad she couldn't have landed a less generic vehicle than No Strings Attached. Portman plays Emma, a work-stressed medical resident who has no time to develop a real relationship. But Emma likes dick, so she latches on to Adam (Ashton Kutcher), who has one. These friends with benefits bang away like rabbits until — all together now, people! — they fall in love. This plot has been recycled since cave dwellers first drew pictures on walls. In fact, a film actually called Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, opens this summer.

Peter Travers reviews No Strings Attached in his weekly video series, "At the Movies With Peter Travers."

What's in this cliché grab bag for moviegoers? Well, Portman and Kutcher are a cute mismatch. She's short to his tall, sassy to his sweet, etc. I dried up here. So does the movie. Veteran comedy director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, hello!) distracts from the void at the center of Elizabeth Meriwether's script by throwing in a mad-funny Kevin Kline as Adam's vain TV-star dad. And Lake Bell uses the role of the fast-talking ditz who crushes on Adam to steal scenes (it's petty larceny). Since Portman exec-produced this cinematic hairball, she gets the blame if audiences cough it up.

The 10 Best Movies of 2010

From The Archives Issue 1123: February 3, 2011
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