Ivan Reitman, of GHOSTBUSTERS, fame returns to our screens with the kind of contemporary social comedy more typically associated with his son Jason (THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, UP IN THE AIR). The result is a movie that wants us to think it's edgy and honest, but when you cut to the meat, it's still the same old rom-com happy-ending bullshit we've been subjected to for decades.
Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher play two emotionally bruised people who react to their wounds in diametrically opposite ways. The girl becomes emotionally repressed, running from anything that could turn sour and hurt her. By contrast, the boy becomes immensely open and vulnerable, rushing toward people who can't return his emotions. Not automatically the set-up for a rom-com, one might think. But hey-ho, this being Hollywood, the two star-crossed lovers meet cute and decide to have NSA sex. Inevitably, they fall in love. He pushes for a relationship and she runs. One suspects that if Jason Reitman had been directing the film that's where it would've ended. But no. Because, while this film tries to prove how modern and liberated it is with its explicit sexual references and a whole scene devoted to period cramps, essentially it is a conservative project. And this contradiction infects every scene. Thus, while there are some rather funny set-pieces, typically involving the superb supporting cast (Mindy Kalinga, Kevin Kline, Lake Bell, and a brilliantly ditzy Ophelia Lovibond), the movie as a whole just doesn't hang together.
Not only does the film not hang together, it also has the faint whiff of desperation about it. It's desperate for us to love it - for us to think it's cool. In fact, it's about as desperate as the scarily need mono-dimensionally good guy that Ashton Kutcher plays in this flick, not to mention last year's VALENTINE'S DAY. I am genuinely puzzled as to why Natalie Portman, darling of indie flicks since LEON, and soon to be Oscar winner for BLACK SWAN, decided to take a role in this film. And it's even more bizarre when you realise that she actually produced it. And perhaps most puzzling of all - what a bizarre and wasteful way to use Cary Elwes!
NO STRINGS ATTACHED was released in January in the USA and Canada. It is currently on release in Bulgaria, Belgium, Indonesia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Portugal, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Singapore. It opens next week in Argentina, Greece, Brazil, Estonia and the UK. It opens on March 18th in Poland; on March 25th in Iceland and Spain; and on March 31st in Slovenia. It opens on April 1st in Sweden; on April 15th in Italy and on April 22nd in Japan.