Plot summary (from the studio): Dylan (Justin Timberlake) is done with relationships. Jamie (Mila Kunis) decides to stop buying into the Hollywood clichés of true love. When the two become friends they decide to try something new and take advantage of their mutual attraction – but without any emotional attachment. Physical pleasure without the entanglements. Sounds easy enough for two logical adults, right? Not so much. They soon realize romantic comedy stereotypes might exist for a reason.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- A lot of the dialogue at the beginning of the film (when Dylan and Jamie first met and then later decided to become FWB) was sharp and witty. I was immediately drawn into these characters because of what they said. But the writer wasn’t able to sustain that for the entire movie.
- Timberlake and Kunis had a surprising amount of chemistry. They were completely believable, first as friends and later as FWB.
- I thought Timberlake was able to hold his own. It’s hard for musicians to make the transition to acting, but he didn’t seem completely out of place as the lead in a rom-com. I wouldn’t buy him as an action hero or anything like that, and he wasn’t great here, but he wasn’t blown off the screen by his co-stars.
- The rom-com within the rom-com was pretty funny, especially since it featured somewhat recognizable actors in Jason Segel and Rashida Jones. I have to admit I was expecting Dylan to bust out the horse and carriage at the end for Jamie — but I’m so glad they didn’t go that route.
- I thought the “breakup” in the second act was pretty lame. Dylan didn’t say anything to his sister that Jamie didn’t already admit about herself, so why did she get all upset and leave town so suddenly? She was the one breaking the FWB rules and wasn’t fair to Dylan just because he didn’t follow suit.
- I thought the visit to Dylan’s house was boring. I know they had to go there to precipitate the breakup and allow the sane sister to be the voice of reason who helps Dylan recognize his true feelings, but many of the scenes just dragged out.
- What was the point of having Dylan’s stutter come back when he was stuck on the Hollywood sign? Just to show how rattled he was? That made little sense, especially since none of the characters subsequently addressed it.
- The Woody Harrelson character was annoying. Period. End of analysis.
Friends with Benefits has a great hook and excellent opening act. There were many funny moments and the characters had terrific chemistry, but the film couldn’t sustain its momentum as it went merrily down the rom-com path. I give this one 3 stars out of 5.