Why I was pleasantly surprised with ‘Friends with Benefits’

Friends with BenefitsI didn’t expect to like 2011 rom-rom “Friends with Benefits,” which is eerily similar to (but much better than) “No Strings Attached.” I’ve never been crazy about JT and I used to resent the plot’s flippant approach to dating, but with some time to kill before going out last night, I decided to watch something light and fun. Because I adore Emma Stone and she has a small but memorable role in “Friends with Benefits,” I settled on that.

The film begins with Mila Kunis’s character Jamie trying to recruit Los Angeles web producer Dylan (JT) to work for GQ in New York. After an exciting night in Manhattan, Dylan takes the job and befriends Jamie. They’ve recently been dumped and miss the sexual aspect of their previous relationships, so they vow to sleep together sans commitment. Sounds like a foolproof plan, right?

After “Friends with Benefits” hit theaters, rumors surfaced that Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake had become an item on set, and while they definitely have serious onscreen chemistry, their connection seems like more of a brother and sister thing than a romantic one, so I’m not sure what to make of the rumblings. At any rate, they work well as a pair and surprised me with their comedic talents.

The best part of the movie is easily the scripted dialogue between Dylan and Jamie. Because they’re only hooking up, they’re unafraid to be blunt with each other. Jamie tells Dylan from the get-go that she’s creeped out by dirty talk and feet, as she has “daddy issues.”

“I would have shaved my legs earlier had I known we were going to have sex,” she tells him.

“I wouldn’t have shaved my legs had I known we were going to have sex,” he replies.

Later on, he complains of hamstring cramps from too much boning, prompting Jamie to give him a banana. Then she threatens to stop shaving her private areas if he doesn’t start getting man-scaped. The honesty between them is great, and perhaps that’s why their relationship blossoms into something much more meaningful than they originally bargained for.

Rom-coms are predictable in nature, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to you that Dylan and Jamie ultimately fall for each other. Some have argued that the ending sends the false message that casual dating can never be just that: one party always wants something beyond mindless banging. You know what? It’s true. I’ve definitely hung around guys I’d never be exclusive with, but all along I desired more than I was getting — just not with the aforementioned time-waster. You don’t always love the person you casually see, but chances are you’ll eventually long for something with more depth. That’s the moral of “Friends with Benefits,” which you’re bound to appreciate — whether for the banter between Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake, the evolution of their relationship, the priceless one-liners by Woody Harrelson, the cameo by Richard Jenkins, the sunny shots of NYC in the summer, the fake film starring Jason Segel, or just Mila Kunis. I loved it all.


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