No Strings Attached is another predictable rom com where you know exactly what's going to happen - two people meet, engage in some kind of relationship, enter obstacle, now to the breakup, and finally we see a happy-ending reconciliation.
Now we all go into these movies knowing what's going to happen and it's okay. That's what we expect and if, for some reason, that's not what happens - we leave disappointed and cheated.
This time director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Animal House) adds a bit of a twist.
The film follows Emma (Natalie Portman) who is a doctor and Adam (Ashton Kutcher), an aspiring TV writer. The two meet a few times throughout their lives, but end up back together again when Adam calls Emma after a drunken night. They decide to have sex without any of the complicated relationship stuff. And it's all working out swell. They call each other at any time during the night or day - like they can realistically get away so easily for a romping session
Then, Adam asks Emma on a date, and things start to get complicated when they realize there may be more to their relationship than just sex. The usual chaos and break-ups ensue before they decide a relationship might not be all that bad.
The film is much better than your standard romantic comedies; with an R rating, it's a bit more risque and allows for much funnier dialogue.
Ashton Kutcher is completely adorable and you really believe that he cares for this girl he's sleeping with. Natalie Portman is charming and likable, even though she's pushing away a guy she clearly likes, which just seems ridiculous.
The supporting cast, including Mindy Kaling (The Office), Chris "Ludicris" Bridges, Lake Bell, and Guy Branam, is funny and provides the two main characters some outside advice and perspective. Lake Bell is particularly charming and awkward as Adam's co-worker and attempted rebound - although things go so badly, it doesn't work at all. The subplot involving Adam's sex-obsessed, drug-addicted actor father adds nothing and is more tedious than funny.
The character development is a little shallow though. We don't really get a good understanding of why Emma doesn't want a relationship. If the reason was simply because, as a doctor, she's too busy, we might have bought it. Instead they try to throw in the fact that her father's death contributed to her fear of commitment and it just doesn't quite make sense.
Om the bright side, the role reversal (Adam wanting the relationship, Emma rejecting it) is believable and it's refreshing to see that a modern woman can be successful and interested in sex without any kind of stigma.
Overall, No Strings Attached provides a fresh look at the rom com genre and gives us all hope that there are more smart, funny films to come.