Let’s face it: Chick flicks are never going to be Oscar material. What they CAN achieve is hilarity, cuteness, and not being completely idiotic and forgettable. We think No Strings Attached was just fine. It was raunchy, but funny in the first half. (It’s rated R.) We are still laughing over “the period mix.” The second half turned into more of a dramatic, romantic movie, but by then, you were too hooked on the characters to care that there weren't as many laughs.
The biggest strength of this movie is the female lead. The closest thing to a romantic comedy Natalie Portman has done is Garden State, and that doesn’t really qualify. We know why she waited so long: Natalie was offended by the flimsy female characters who can’t live without a man that populate chick flicks. So she waited for this role. This role might have gone TOO far in trying to switch around the gender stereotypes. One scene that comes to mind is when a guy says to the main male character, “I’m the guy she marries. You’re the guy she [has sex with a few times].” That’s a statement often made to compare loose and chaste women, not men. But we liked that Natalie’s character, Emma, wasn’t into fashion, didn’t work in the media, wasn’t lamenting her weight, and wasn’t yearning to get married as soon as possible. It was a refreshing departure from most movie women, but possibly an unrealistic one. Look around: There are more women who want a boyfriend than who just want sex for their own physical pleasure. That’s how we are wired, for the most part. While we admired the attempt to upset stereotypes, we raised a few eyebrows at the likelyhood of all this.
But Emma was also smart (she was a doctor), compassionate, bold, and very funny, rather than just a flat shrew dating a funny guy. (Aren’t you sick of uptight, type A women in these comedies dating a laid-back slacker?) Ashton Kutcher wasn’t annoying in this either, for all of you who hate him out there. Don’t let his presence turn you off of seeing this movie. He and Natalie had great chemistry, and they both did a good job. One of our mothers was afraid that the movie would have a bad message, because this mom believes that sex is a big deal and only for people who at least love each other. But the end message is that it’s not possible to be “sex friends” and that it’s better to let yourself fall in love. The story is completely predictable, but most love movies are. You’ll enjoy getting to the end. As far as regular romantic comedies go, this one is an A. As far as movies in general go, it’s about a B-. We had fun watching it. You can hate on it for being a standard rom-com/not a critical darling, but there's no denying the entire audience in our theatre had a lot of fun too.
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