Recently Love and Other Drugs showcased the informal liaisons of Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. “We decided it was going to be two characters that both really couldn’t be intimate,” says Jake, “and so we both went to sex as a way of avoiding things.”
This week in No Strings Attached Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher become the latest Hollywood a-listers to try and keep their relationship strictly physical in this Ivan Reitman comedy.
Other films to ask “What’s love got to do with it?” include 9 Songs, the erotic Michael Winterbottom movie about Matt, an English scientist, and Lisa, an American on vacation in London. They meet, jump into the sack and go to Primal Scream and Franz Ferdinand concerts and soon learn, as Roger Ebert noted in his review, “sex is easy but love is hard.”
Another movie couple learned that lesson, with much happier results in Knocked Up, the 2007 comedy about a one night stand, an unplanned pregnancy and enforced maturity. The Guardian called it “a new genre of romantic comedy in which an unappealing hero gets together with a gorgeous, successful woman.” Star Katherine Heigl had a different take, suggesting the film “paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.” In response the film’s director Judd Apatow said “I’m just shocked she [Heigl] used the word shrew. I mean, what is this, the sixteen-hundreds?”
The reviews for Casual Sex?, a 1988 comedy starring Lea Thompson and Victoria Jackson as two women who look for love at an upscale spa—“It was the early eighties,” says Thompson’s character, “and sex was still a good way to meet new people.”—sum up the way many people feel about the sex without commitment. The movie,” wrote Hal Hinson in the Washington Post, “is exactly like the real thing—kinda empty, kinda unfulfilling, and you feel just awful afterward.”
On the other hand James Bond, possibly the screen’s biggest proponent of casual sex, never seemed to have a problem with a quick fling. Not willing to limit himself to earth-bound trysts in Moonraker he even has a rendezvous on a spaceship careening back through earth’s atmosphere. “My God, what is Bond doing?!” asks his boss Sir Frederick Gray. “I think he’s attempting re-entry sir,” replies Q.