Directed by Ivan Reitman, No Strings Attached follows Adam (Ashton Kutcher) and Emma (Natalie Portman) as they attempt to sidestep issues of intimacy by engaging in a purely physical relationship – with problems ensuing as Adam begins to develop romantic feelings for Emma. It’s clear right from the outset that Reitman, working from Elizabeth Meriwether’s screenplay, isn’t looking to offer up a typically slick romantic comedy, as the filmmaker has infused the proceedings with an edgier sensibility that initially holds some promise – with Kutcher and Portman’s charismatic work heightened by an impressively eclectic supporting cast that includes Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes, and Greta Gerwig. It’s only as the movie progresses into its unusually sluggish midsection that one’s interest begins to flag, and it’s clear that Meriwether’s increasingly episodic sensibilities are compounded by her ongoing reliance on eye-rollingly familiar romcom clichés (ie Adam and Emma’s unreasonably wacky friends). The incongruously dramatic bent of the film’s final third – the fake break-up makes an especially needless appearance – cements No Strings Attached‘s place as a consistently underwhelming piece of work, although Reitman does deserve some credit for avoiding the slickness that seems to be part and parcel with the genre nowadays (ie a typically empty Katherine Heigl or Kristen Bell vehicle this isn’t).
** out of ****