A colossal waste of talent, Friends With Benefits is burdened with, like January’s No Strings Attached, a numbingly generic title and a worn-out premise. Headhunted by Jamie (Mila Kunis), Angeleno Dylan (Justin Timberlake) moves to New York to become the art director of GQ. She shows him around town and they commiserate about past relationships, then try to prove they’re capable of sex without commitment through the usual montage of aerobic rutting (supplemented with Kunis’s obvious body double). Directed and co-written by Will Gluck (Easy A), FWB can’t stop reminding you what an above-it-all romantic comedy it thinks it is, taking digs at Katherine Heigl and Nora Ephron. The hypocrisy becomes even more galling during a saccharine subplot involving Dylan’s Alzheimer’s-addled dad (Richard Jenkins, a delightful actor squandered, much like Patricia Clarkson as Jamie’s raunchy mom). But what’s most crushing is witnessing what should have been the dream pairing of Kunis and Timberlake—both foxy, loose, confident performers—here generating zero chemistry. Kunis seems to have forgotten how to use her inside voice; her screeching, in turn, prompts her male lead to speak in even higher, tinnier registers. Maybe some studio will get it right with the sure-to-be-coming-soon Fuck Buddies.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 20, 2011