Friday, November 11, 2011

Friends with Benefits

Vain seksiä / Bara sex. US © 2011 Screen Gems, Inc.P: Liz Glotzer, Will Gluck, Martin Shafer, Janet Zucker, Jerry Zucker. D: Will Gluck. SC: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck - story: Harley Peyton, Keith Merryman, David A. Newman. DP: Michael Grady. PD: Marcia Hinds. AD: Bo Johnson. Set dec: Cindy Coburn, Alyssa Winter. Cost: Renee Ehrlich Kalfus. Makeup: Tracy Manzo. S: Jon Wakeham. ED: Tia Nolan. Casting: Lisa Miller Katz. Loc: New York, Los Angeles. Cast: Justin Timberlake (Dylan), Mila Kunis (Jamie), Patricia Clarkson (Lorna), Jenna Elfman (Annie), Bryan Greenberg (Parker), Richard Jenkins (Mr. Harper), Woody Harrelson (Tommy), Shaun White (himself). Released in Finland by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Finland with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Timo Porri / Saliven Gustavson. 2K DCP viewed at Tennispalatsi 4, Helsinki, 11 Nov 2011.

Official synopsis: "Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) think it's going to be easy to add the simple act of sex to their friendship, despite what Hollywood romantic comedies would have them believe. They soon discover however that getting physical really does always lead to complications."

Jamie the NY based executive recruiter impresses the LA based internet art director Dylan with her introduction to New York so profoundly that she not only manages to have him recruited but they also become friends. So good friends that because they are both single they decide on non-committed sex.

Nobody would expect Jamie and Dylan to succeed, and the interest of the movie is not in the what but in the how. In the beginning my impression was that the film-makers try to hard, the dialogue is too clever, the soundtrack is too busy, and the characters are too shallow. What I liked: (1) the motif of Jamie and Dylan introducing each other their mountain top (the rooftop of a NY skyskraper with a view to the stars; the Hollywood sign with access forbidden), (2) the flash mob theme: Jamie converts Dylan with the flash mob experience in the beginning and Dylan charms Jamie with a flash mob in the conclusion, (3) the solemn oath to keep the sex relationship non-committed with a hand on an i-Pad electric Bible app which is malfunctioning, (4) Jamie is hidden in Dylan's little nephew's magician's chest expecting to be sawed in half when she overhears Dylan's fatal confession to his sister that he does not love Jamie, (5) "with friends like that who needs friends", (6) "I am damaged". - "So am I", (7) the duelling finger movements on a tablet computer as the basis of the end credits design, (8) a running gag is a corny romantic comedy invented for this movie which the couple keep referring to, and after the credits we see its "spoiled scenes" (because everybody had left the cinema long ago I was the only one who saw them).

Richard Jenkins brings an aspect of gravity as Dylan's father suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Patricia Clarkson gives a caricature MILF performance as Jamie's mother living in terminal non-commitment. Dylan is not a dream prince: he suffers from a fear of heights and from a serious disability with numbers. The running gag with "gay Harry Potter" I did not get.

The visual quality of the 2K DCP is fine except in nature scenes which look denatured.

The soundtrack (the i-Tunes list version from the movie's website) is beyond the jump break:
1 Magic Carpet Ride / Steppenwolf
2 L.O.V. / Fitz and The Tantrums
3 Booty Call / G. Love and Special Sauce
4 New York, New York / Ray Quinn
5 Boys Don't Cry / Grant Lee Phillips
6 Such a Colorful World/ Max & Simon
7 Satellite / Peter Conway
8 Let a Woman Be a Woman ... / Dyke & The Blazers
9 At the Window / Double 0 Zero
10 Love's Gonna Getcha / Tal & Acacia
11 Jump / Kris Kross
12 This Too Shall Pass / Rogue Wave
13 Tightrope / Janelle Monáe
14 Take a Bow / Greg Laswell
15 Closing Time / Semisonic

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