Film Review: Friends with Benefits

Friends with Benefits is a lot of fun. Like its protagonists, the film is imperfect. Nonetheless, it is still a very enjoyable romantic comedy.

Both recently out of relationships, headhunter Jamie meets creative director Dylan as she tries to persuade him to take a job with GQ Magazine. The two become friends, as they bond over their mutual derision of romantic clichés. One evening, Dylan and Jamie decide that no strings sex won’t complicate their friendship. The arrangement works, but only temporarily…

Friends with Benefits is very funny in places. The humour is consistent, which makes the film more enjoyable throughout. It can be crass at times, but this isn’t a bad thing. The comedy is always on the money.

Will Gluck’s film is particularly interesting as it overtly references many romantic-comedy clichés. Friends with Benefits playfully makes fun of these conventions, and even at the stars of recent rom-coms. Nevertheless, the second half of the film then adheres to these same stereotypical traits. It is a little disappointing that Friends with Benefits does not try to be a bit more original in this respect. The sense of predictability is however outweighed by the comedy; the numerous laughs negate the lack of innovation.

Part of the reason that Gluck’s film works so well is that the characters are likeable. Dylan and Jamie are believable in their relationship; their interactions appear natural and spontaneous. Moreover, the supporting characters function well to keep the emphasis on the two protagonists while providing some back-story.

Another interesting facet of Friends with Benefits is its use of technology. The film is very contemporary, with its reliance on mobile phones and the internet as integral to the narrative. It is also rather amusing that T-Mobile is slated in the film, and yet the flash mobs (which the company used to publicise its campaigns) are used to great affect.

Performances in the film are good. Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis have great chemistry, which makes them very easy to watch. Both seem to have a flair for this type of comedy. Elsewhere, Patricia Clarkson delivers a star turn as Lorna and Emma Stone is fantastic in the opening scene.

The soundtrack to the film is also very good. Music is used to great effect, as well as being referenced within the film.  All in all, Friends with Benefits is a bit of a rarity; a formulaic rom-com that will actually make you laugh.