The first of two 2011 releases dealing with NSA sex partners, No Strings Attached is the “White Swan” version, with Natalie Portman as Emma, an L.A. doctor (sure) whose 80-hour work week leaves little time for anything other than physical sexual satisfaction (God forbid anything resembling an emotional connection); her friend-with-benefits is a longtime acquaintance, a goofy buffoon (Ashton Kutcher playing a guy named “Adam” but really might as well be called “Ashton Kutcher”) who works as a production assistant on a television show. The sex is served piping hot for a while, but you know how these things go with the Green Eyed Monster eventually hiding under the bed. Director Ivan Reitman‘s exploration of what Hollywood surely considers to be an “edgy” and “hip” kind of relationship isn’t so much libertarian as it is hopelessly predictable and frustratingly naive; No Strings Attached (and Friends With Benefits, the “Black Swan” version released six months after it) offers little insight into the complicated mess that is human sexuality, content with just showing too attractive stars bouncing around naked together and keeping the drama as simplistic as possible, i.e. one of them getting mad when the other ends up wanting something more than just hit-and-run orgasms. The only thing more absurd than Portman and Kutcher’s situation is the various situations of the supporting cast members, most notably Kutcher’s twice-divorced father (Kevin Kline) who’s now — get this — banging his son’s ex. Sigh. Natalie, you know you don’t have to make movies like this, right?
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