Review: No Strings Attached Blu-ray

No Strings Attached Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Paramount/DreamWorks | DIRECTOR: Ivan Reitman | CAST: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Lake Bell, Cary Elwes, Jake Johnson, Greta Gerwig, Olive Thirlby
RELEASE DATE:
4/26/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD combo $29.99, DVD $19.99,
BONUSES:
commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, alternate storylines; BD adds featurette, digital copy
SPECS:
R | 108 min. | Romantic comedy | 2.35:1 widescreen | English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

No Strings Attached

Ashton Kutcher gets blatantly subliminal with Natalie Portman in No Strings Attached.

No Strings Attached is the inevitable big-budget Hollywood romantic comedy movie about the whole “friends with benefits” lifestyle enjoyed by a generation of young adults who can’t understand what’s hit them when they find themselves falling in love with their non-committal sex partner.

As this is a big-budget Hollywood look at a hot topic, the film is A-list all the way, from its leading couple who jump into the no-strings sexual relationship — Ashton Kutcher (Killers) as a production assistant on a High School Musical-like TV show who dreams of taking the reigns of his own show and Natalie Portman (Black Swan) as a seemingly cool-headed resident doctor — to its director, comedy journeyman Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters).

Trendy as its subject is, No Strings Attached still fits snuggly into the old-fashioned Hollywood romantic comedy template: The guy and gal both grow personally and professionally over the course of the film, wherein they initially get together, then separate, and finally come back to one another at the end. (What did you expect? We don’t really feel like we’re giving away a big secret here.) They have lots of lively friends, family members and co-workers, of course, and there’s a fun, up-tempo montage (which, in this case, is a lively collection of sex scenes set to a remix of Elvis’s “Bossa Nova Baby”).

No Strings Attached clicks from time to time, but 28-year-old Elizabeth Merriweather’s episodic screenplay isn’t fall-down funny or delightfully romantic. At times, it leans towards the raunchy and overly silly, but never fully taking the plunge, the film stays high and dry without following through on the rich, laughable material that one is getting prepped for.

But there’s enough to smile over in this good looking movie (which really sparkles in its Blu-ray edition) to make it worth the stretch. The most consistent fun comes from the aforementioned ensemble of familiar-faced co-stars, which also includes Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride), Mindy Kaling (TV’s The Office), Jake Johnson (Ceremony), Greta Gerwig (Greenberg), Olive Thirlby (Uncertainty) and Kevin Kline (The Extra Man) as Kutcher’s self-centered actor dad. As for Portman and Kutcher, they’re comfortable but not as endearing as those who surround them.

There’s a generous allotment of Blu-ray bonus features. Director Reitman’s easygoing commentary finds the filmmaker frequently hailing the much-younger talents that he collaborated with on this project, most notably his leading couple, whom he describes as “iconically representative of their generation.”

The 20-minute making-of featurette details the genesis of the picture — producer Jeffrey Clifford woke up one day and decided it was time to make a romantic comedy about “f**k buddies” — and spends a lot of time on screenwriter Merriweather, who admits that having slept with a lot of her male friends over the years, she was properly suited to bang out the script. All the stars are also on hand for a comment or two, including Kevin Kline, who describes his character as a “tanned, stupic, narcissistic putz.”

Also included are five deleted scenes, one extended sequence and, most interesting, a fair of excised scenes revolving around an alternate storyline featuring a hook-up between Kutcher and co-star Lake Bell (Burning Palms), who’s fast becoming Hollywood’s go-to young actress when they’re looking to fill a funny/sexy slot.

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.