No Strings Attached follows two young lovers, Emma and Adam (Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher) as they embark on an attempt at a strictly sexual relationship, devoid of the responsibility and pitfalls that come with a committed, monogamous romance.
As far as plots go, Strings doesn’t cover any new ground – it’s a romantic comedy and follows the formula to a T.
That said, as far as romantic comedies go, it’s a good one.
Guys, if you want to win brownie points by spontaneously taking your gal to see a romantic comedy, this is the one to take her to. In a lot of ways, No Strings Attached feels more like a Judd Apatow flick than a typical romantic comedy. The tag line I’ve seen on the ads claims:“It’s this generation’s When Harry Met Sally,”— and it’s pretty accurate. However, I’d say a better description of Strings is that it’s When Harry Met Sally meets Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
The opening scene really sets the tone for the entire movie. A young Emma and Adam meet at summer camp. Adam’s father, played brilliantly by Kevin Kline, has just divorced his mother. It seems like it’s going to be Adam’s first romantic encounter, but Adam soon finds himself crying. Emma doesn’t know how to console him, and half-heartedly puts a hand on his shoulder. Adam turns to her and with deadpan delivery asks,“Can I finger you?”- I could immediately tell I was going to like this movie.
Strings, however, is not simply a crude comedy, and does a fantastic balancing act between the sexual jokes and filling the movie with significant heart. I think that’s because, at its essence, Strings is really about the characters.
Both characters have flaws, but they’re frosting flaws – imperfections that the viewer doesn’t see as such a bad thing. Portman has major commitment issues, but that’s what makes her so charming and free spirited. Kutcher is overly positive, but that just adds to the character’s charm.
Star Wars aside, Portman is always a treat to watch, but particularly so in this role. As a guy, you can’t help but fall in love with her portrayal of Emma. Emma’s smart, funny, intoxicatingly beautiful and she wants to have a ton of sex without any kind of a commitment – basically every guy’s dream.
I also have to begrudgingly admit that Kutcher was excellent. After the obnoxious intros he used to do on Punk’d, I find him irritating, and on the way to the theater a friend and I actually talked about how much we were dreading to see him as a romantic lead. He proved me wrong on this one, and was exceptionally funny and charming – his agent should take note and find him more roles like these, tell him to leave those sideways-trucker-hat-wearing days firmly in his past.
Now don’t get me wrong, Strings is still a romantic comedy.
If you’re like many of my guy friends who inherently dislike romantic comedies, then you’re still going to dislike aspects of this movie. But as far as the genre goes, this is one of the better ones, and it packs in a lot of things that viewers will most certainly enjoy – Y chromosome or not.