out of Five
Running time: 108
Disappointing, overly long romcom that squanders an excellent supporting cast and is ultimately let down by a misleading central premise, zero chemistry between the two leads and a painful lack of actual laughs.
What's it all about?
Directed by Ivan Reitman, No Strings Attached stars Ashton Kutcher as Adam, a production assistant on a suspiciously Glee-like TV show who has flirted with LA nurse Emma (Natalie Portman) on the few occasions that their paths have crossed over the last 15 years. When Adam discovers his sitcom actor father (Kevin Kline) has been sleeping with his ex-girlfriend (Ophelia Lovibond), he gets hideously drunk, calls everyone in his prominently placed iPhone in search of drunken rebound sex and eventually hooks up with Emma after she takes pity on him.
Despite Adam wanting a proper relationship, Emma announces that she has commitment issues, so he readily agrees when she suggests a purely physical relationship with ‘no strings attached’ instead. However, it isn't long before both sides start to feel the strain.
The main thing the film has in its favour is a vaguely refreshing role-reversal where it's Emma who just wants sex while Adam is the one with romantic feelings. However, the script does nothing interesting with that idea and quickly slips back into the expected clichés.
Kutcher and Portman are likeable, watchable actors but there's zero chemistry between them and you never really root for their relationship. The film also completely wastes a superb comic cast that includes Carey Elwes (as a doctor), Olivia Thirlby (Emma's sister), Chris Bridges (Adam's friend), Lake Bell (Adam's smitten colleague), Greta Gerwig (Emma's best friend) and Mindy Kaling (Emma's flatmate) as well as a scene-stealing Kline and Lovibond.
The most annoying thing about the film is that it's not remotely what was promised by the trailer and the poster, both of which indicate that Adam and Emma are best friends before they sleep together (“Can best friends ever be sex friends?”, as the tagline puts it). If that were the case, there would be something at stake and it would be interesting to see the impact of the sexual relationship on the friendship, but again, the script isn't remotely interested in exploring that idea.
On top of that, the dialogue has distinctly few laughs and is at least 20 minutes too long. It also doesn't help that every single supporting character is funnier and more interesting than either of the two leads.
No Strings Attached is a disappointing, overlong romcom that ultimately fails to deliver either rom or com.