No Strings Attached - Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in casual sexual relationship
Ivan Reitman's sweet-and-sour confection coasts by on personable leads
The moribund romcom genre emits a shrill death-rattle in No Strings Attached, in which Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher play friends who find themselves in a casual sexual relationship, only to find that there are always strings attached. Ivan Reitman, director of Ghostbusters, makes his comeback with a sweet-and-sour confection that coasts by on personable leads, but stutters awkwardly through lame, Judd Apatow-by-numbers comedy.
Kutcher plays Adam, an aspiring television writer who gets thrown over by his girlfriend in favour of his lothario dad (Kevin Kline) and seeks solace by calling every girl in his phone contacts. Adam ends up on the couch of Emma (Portman), a workaholic doctor whose schedule allows little time for relationships. With a Greek chorus of friends lending advice, Adam and Emma gradually try to figure out whether they’re friends, lovers or soul mates.
If Black Swan offered Portman the role of a lifetime, No Strings Attached demonstrates she can play pretty and likable, no matter how thinly written the character. Kutcher phones in his usual doe-eyed schmuck, leaving Kline as an over-qualified support to mop up the rather crude, standard-issue jokes about pop-culture and bodily fluid emissions.