Patty (woodycakes) wrote,

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Movie Raving: Friends with Benefits + the other one

Same But Different [IMDB]
So sometime this year, I find out that there were two films starring The Black Swan Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis with the same vibe. Not that it hasn't happened before. What I found funny though was how these two co-stars from a critically acclaimed film would move on to make rom-coms of the same nature and almost exactly the same premise.

Oh and though this film came out in July in the US, it only came out like yesterday here. So, I'm late to the party, obviously. But hey, so is the life of a 3rd-world citizen. At least it even came out here, I should be thankful. Let's move on and see how easy I am to please by both films.

No Strings Attached

Photos courtesy of Adoring Natalie Portman
It's a movie benefiting from another sparkling, sexy and emotionally available performance by Natalie Portman. [Orlando Sentinel]
I saw this one first back in May -- also quite late and though I knew the Mila movie was coming out too, it had Natalie and it was a rom-com and Natalie doesn't usually do rom-coms so I was in. Plus I'll admit Ashton looked really good in the trailers for this one and even as I was watching, I was actually starting to see his appeal to Demi Moore.

What I liked about the movie was how different Natalie was. She plays a doctor here and it was light and things weren't crazy and she was just so pretty. Plus her character had really valid points about the sex without the strings deal. Of course, leave it to Ashton's character to play the girl in this one who ends up caving in and wanting more. I like how this one is set in Los Angeles and has a more chill vibe. Despite the frantc pace of Emma (Natalie Portman's character, I wiki-ed it, okay?), it's still pretty calm on the over-all.

It's important to note that Adam and Emma have met before and they've had some history. What with Emma taking Adam to her dad's funeral -- unbeknownst to Adam, of course and Emma just thanking him for being there for her, it was but eventual for them to strike a friendship -- and more when Adam finds Emma in LA doing her residency.

Doesn't revolutionize the romantic comedy like "(500) Days of Summer," or even match the Farrellys or Judd Apatow for clever smut. But it is cheerful raunch delivered by a solid cast. [St. Petersburg Times]
And because we all know where it ends, I'd just like to commend the supporting cast for rounding up this rom-com and making it a little different from the other movie that comes out later. I love Kevin Kline's character (Ashton's lothario dad who ends up dating his ex-girlfriend) just because his comedic timing is pretty good. I can't imagine how Kevin Kline would spawn Ashton Kutcher but their dynamic was pretty funny.

Emma's sister Katie, played by the adorable Olivia Thirlby should have had more screen time, but I guess they focused too much on Adam and Emma pining for each other when apart but totally denying it to give Olivia more screen time. A girl can dream, though right? Perhaps in Natalie's next rom-com... or not.

Having said that, the draw for me really was Natalie Portman. Of course, I would have still probably seen this rom-com without her, but I wouldn't have given it much room in my brain. Still, I"m a sucker for a rom-com and this one fit the bill. Plus one can't have too many rom-coms anyway.

Friends with Benefits

Photos courtesy of Mila Kunis Online
Chemistry is king. It's one reason the rom-com has long seemed like the toughest code for Hollywood to crack. But never underestimate the power of snappy, rapid-fire banter, the paving stones of the Hollywood road to romance. [Orlando Sentinel]
Having the first movie set in LA set the tone for that one. Meanwhile, this one was set in NYC which makes it all the more frenetic and thus the crazy-fast banter between JT and Mila's charcters, Jamie and Dylan. At times, they spoke so fast, I literally didn't understand what the hell was going on, but it was all good.

Where NSA had a sort of role reversal kind of thing (boy being the girl and the other way around), I wouldn't say the same for FWB. Here, both Mila and JT's characters both felt like men though of course, they both ended being less manly by the end and just were. And as much as I want JT to go back to making music, I have to say, he brought it with this one. He was charming and adorable and really funny.

Though my bias obviously lies with this one more, I saw it after and was able to fully immerse myself in the difference. similarities between the two, I'd have to give props to this one for the fast editing and really using NYC as part of the movie. Though of course, the flash mobs sort of date the movie to 2000-and-late, it still works for me.

It works because Timberlake and Kunis are totally in control of their damaged characters without winking at the audience, as if to say: "Aren't we cute, behaving so naughty?" Their sex is amusingly awkward, and their repressed longings more so. It's the kind of chemistry that comes along once in a generation. [St. Petersburg Times]
Just like the other movie, this one had an awesome supporting cast as well. From cameos from Emma Stone and Andy Samberg (and that really well-cut introduction) to Patricia Clarkson as Mila's mom and Woody Harrelson as JT's gay GQ-sidekick to the handsome Bryan Greenberg whom I miss from OTH, playing Mila's other love interest/rebound guy -- whom they could have totally kicked out in a better way, the cast really worked well together.

The best part? They make the best of both worlds and have Dylan and Jamie get away from NYC to really discover their attraction to each other in Dylan's hometown of Malibu where his family lives (starring the fantastic Richard Jenkins as Dylan's dad and Jenna Elfman as his sister). Of course, revelations are made about both characters as they're thrown out of their comfort zones, but it was nice to see them really get to know each other outside the FWB set-up.

Plus, like mentioned by the real critics, JT and Mila really did have chemistry. Even their Elle cover had me going gaga over the two of them, but they seem to really just hit it off and it shows on screen. There were definitely more laugh out loud moments in this one.

So yes, though both were of the same plot, they somehow treated it differently and though I enjoyed one more than the other, I can't say I hated one more either. Plus look, it made me think about how similar and different they are. Plus, you know Vulture would be all up on that. True enough, I leave you with this. What did you guys think of the movies?

Even More Move Raving:
Crazy, Stupid, Love & One Day
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Tags: mila kunis, movies, natalie portman
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