The movie starts showing how the paths of Portman and Kutcher’s characters crossed paths over the years. Starting at summer camp, followed by Portman’s dad’s funeral, and then a chance meeting in New York between the two. Finally after Kutcher’s dad starts dating his ex-girlfriend he goes on a drinking binge and ends up on Portman’s couch. From there the two decide to be “friends with benefits” but only until one of them started to feel more. The two continue on the path until one of them does end up starting to fall in love with the other and that is where I leave off with the plot so as not to ruin the ending.
I came into this movie with extremely low expectations of this being another predictable, formulaic, romantic comedy. However, due to some very funny writing, and excellent comedic timing of the actors involved, this movie ended up being a very good laugh with a nice story behind it.
From the opening scene in the frat house, I could tell that Portman was going to steal the show. Every time I see her in a movie and I am increasingly impressed at her range and skill as an actress. In this film she handles the comedy element well (though probably not as well Kutcher) and the romantic/dramatic elements extremely well. She doesn’t try to over act the part, but she understands the character and fits into the role well. I would imagine there is some autobiographical touches for her being successful, strong woman who wants to make it on her own.
Kutcher also serves up a good performance in a role that suits him well. And even though this is a role that fits in with his persona as Michael Kelso, he is really starting to show some depth and skill and acting when it comes emotional scenes. On top of that, his comedic timing is spot in several parts of this film. There are times when he pauses uncomfortably long before a joke and there are times where he hits it right away and every time it works.
Ultimately what makes this movie for me was the way the humor was delivered in the film. As I mentioned they are several times in the movie when the timing was just so right that it either caught you off guard or it had you so anxious for the joke, that it made it even funnier. There is point where Kutcher’s father delivers some new he doesn’t like and within a half of a second Kutcher bangs his own head right into the table. The quickness of the reaction was priceless. At another point when Kutcher and Portman go on their first date, Portman told him not to bring flowers, but as she is approaching his car, he is holding something behind his back. You have a good feeling it is not flowers, but you don’t know what it is and he keeps waiting and waiting to show her and your mind has time to run through a full range of possibilities until he still pulls out something I never expected.
There are other parts early in the movie where the awkward pauses work just right during some of the exchanges to make the jokes funnier. When Kutcher first wakes up in Portman’s apartment, each one of her roomates makes it seem like he slept with them the night before and scene is as funny as it is because of the pregnant pauses between lines.
Overall, No Strings Attached was a good romantic comedy that will make you laugh and will promise an enjoyable evening.