Movie Review: Friends With Benefits (2011)

September 13, 2011 in Movie Reviews, Reviews by pacejmiller

You know what?  I am quite certain that at some point I vowed to never see Friends With Benefits (you might even be able to find it on this blog).  But as Estelle Costanza once asked her son George, ‘Why, George?  Why?’, I have the same answer: ‘Because it’s there!’

At the end of the day, Friends With Benefits is a movie, and one that has had surprisingly decent reviews — so I watched it.  Had I seen it before the inescapable comparison film No Strings Attached (with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher), I might have liked it better than its predecessor.  But how is that possible when the two films have virtually the same premise and I like Portman and Kutcher a lot more than Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis?  I know the two films were in production simultaneously, but the fact is one came out before the other.

Like No Strings Attached, Friends With Benefits tells the story of two friends who decide to have a sexual relationship without becoming boyfriend and girlfriend.  Timberlake is Dylan, a Los Angeles native who moves to New York for a job procured for him by headhunter Jamie (Kunis).  The two quickly become friends, decide to become friends with benefits, realise that the arrangement produces problems, and yada yada yada, you know the rest.

To be fair, Friends With Benefits does have its strengths.  It has sharp dialogue, great chemistry between Timberlake and Kunis, a few clever laughs and, as usual, a scene stealing performance from Patricia Clarkson.  The raunchiness and nudity (despite body double involvement) exceeds No Strings Attached, which I suppose is a plus considering it’s a movie about sex.  The film is directed by Will Gluck, who also helmed the surprise comedy hit of last year, Easy A, so you know the quality can’t be too bad.

That said, predictable is predictable.  That wouldn’t have been so bad if Friends With Benefits was super funny, but it’s not.  I’m not sure if it was because they were trying too hard to be witty, but at times it certainly felt that way.  I also had trouble buying the premise that they were genuine ‘friends with benefits’ — to me they were a couple right from the start that just didn’t want to admit they were — or maybe that was the premise?  Maybe I’m nitpicking.

Technically, Friends With Benefits was probably the stronger film, but as a matter of personal preference, I thought No Strings Attached was funnier and had more heart.

2.75 stars out of 5

PS: Is this a continuation of the Black Swan dichotomy involving Portman and Kunis?  After all, No Strings Attached is more naive, slightly dorky but with more heart, whereas Friends With Benefits is naughtier and cooler.

Djokovic downs Nadal in 2011 US Open Final!

September 13, 2011 in Sport, Tennis by pacejmiller

The current undisputed king of tennis, Novak Djokovic

I want to work on a few other posts I have lined up, but the tennis news just keeps flooding in.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, or the Djoker or Nole, or whatever you want to call him, just overcame Rafael Nadal to win the 2011 US Open title, 6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1.  It was a fantastic final with lots of long rallies, running all over the court, and plenty of spectacular shots.  Nadal fought valiantly to bring the third set into a tie-breaker, which he won comfortably, 7-3, but the fourth set was a total annihilation.  This is the Djoker’s first US Open title following two previous finals losses, including last year’s final to Nadal.

The win continues a memorable run for Djokovic, who also captured his second Australian Open and first Wimbledon title and made the French Open semifinals this year.  For the season, he now has 10 titles and a 64-2 record, which gives him a remarkable 0.969 winning percentage, and if he does not lose again this year, will finish with the best single season winning percentage of all time (currently held by John McEnroe, who went 82-3 in 1984 for a 0.965 winning percentage).  Unbelievable.

Some people dislike Novak for his seemingly cocky demeanour, but I like the guy.  I think he brings a bit of spice to the game, which has been dominated for far too long by ‘nice guys’ like Federer and Nadal.  That said, I also like Rafa too, so I wasn’t going for anyone in particular in these finals.

I love how unpredictable tennis has been lately.  I remember when Nadal captured the French, Wimbledon and US Open last year and it appeared he was on the fast track to catching up to a sliding Roger Federer, or at least getting close enough to make the GOAT discussion even more interesting.

Then Djokovic suddenly takes his fitness and mental aspect of his game to a whole new level and becomes an absolutely unstoppable killer on the court.  Djokovic is 6-0 against Nadal this year, all in finals, and probably would have made it 7-0 and a ‘Grand Slam’ if he hadn’t dropped the French Open semi against Federer.  If Djokovic can keep this level of fitness up, there is no reason why he can’t continue this kind of run for at least another year or two and push his Grand Slam total into double figures in a hurry.

With Nadal as Federer’s kryptonite and Djokovic as Nadal’s, we now have a very interesting triangle of power, with Djokovic at the apex.  Now if only Andy Murray can do something — anything — to make it a quadrilateral…

PS: It is clear that Djokovic is also dominating the WAG category in men’s tennis as well.

No Djoke; girlfriend Jelena Ristic at the final