Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman play 20-something Los Angelenos who slowly realize that sex is easy while love requires a lot more work. She’s a “relationshiphobic” workaholic. He wears his heart on his sleeve. At first they agree to a friends-with-benefits set up, arranging trysts by text and keeping it informal but when the l-word—that’s love—rears its head it threatens to blow apart their casual connection.
“No Strings Attached” is one of those rare movies where the main characters are the least interesting people in the movie. Natalie Portman (who stars and is one of the movie’s producers) is having an interesting year professionally. In “Black Swan” she hands in one of the most memorable performances of the year only to follow it up with a dull offering a movie that she seems miscast in. This seems more like a Kathryn Hiegl movie than a Natalie Portman vehicle; a movie with leads that could have been played by any number of Hollywood rom com regulars. Insert Heigl and Paul Rudd or Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel and this would have been pretty much the same movie.
Worse, despite the bouncing bed springs and many, many shared sex scenes, Kutcher and Portman don’t seem to have much chemistry. The pair generates so little heat you may want to bring a blanket with you to the theatre.
Luckily the supporting cast has more to offer than the above-the-title stars. Who knew Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges had such a light touch? He has a small, recurring role and knocks it out of the park every time he’s on screen. Ditto Greta Gerwig, the former indie darling who impressed in “Greenberg” and now has the funniest line in this movie and will someone please give Lake Bell the lead in a comedy. She’s beautiful, funny and pulls focus from whoever she shares a frame with. As the neurotic television producer she has the funniest almost-love scene we’ve seen in ages and adds some much needed zip to the predictable and occasionally even dull story.
Go to see Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher sorta naked. Stay to see Lake Bell, Ludacris and Gerwig bring the funny.