No Strings Attached is a trite romantic comedy with few redeeming features. In promoting its normative relationship between a white, middle class heterosexual couple, Ivan Reitman’s film does nothing original or illuminating.
Having had brief meetings as kids and as college students, when Emma and Adam reconnect as adults there is a definite attraction. Deciding to embark on a purely physical relationship, the pair decides to end things if either of them develop feelings for the other. Although the arrangement starts off well, things become complicated later…
No Strings Attached begins with a caption that reads “15 years ago”. This gives the audience hope that there will at least be some kitsch references to the mid-1990s to entertain. Sadly this is just a momentary flashback, and No Strings Attached does not even have these little amusements to rely upon. As it stands, the humour is rather lame; there are very few genuinely funny moments.
No Strings Attached features the usual romantic comedy jokes and narrative devices. Towards the end, it appears for a moment that writers Mike Samonek and Elizabeth Meriwether have decided to do something slightly interesting with the conclusion. Unfortunately for viewers, the very predictable outcome is plumped for.
Perhaps what most leaves a sour taste is the all too predictable ‘happily ever after’ conclusion that ties up loose ends for the couple alone. While the main characters and their heterosexual white best friends end up in traditional relationships, the same cannot be said for the friends who do not fit this mould. Thus Adam’s black friend is not paired off with a woman, while Adam and his white friend both are. Similarly, Emma and her white flat mate find love by the end of No Strings Attached, their Asian female friend and their white gay male friend do not. Instead, these characters are left to share the male cast off by the lead female protagonist. Thus, secondary characters do not get the necessary happy ending unless they fall under the same demographic as the lead characters.
Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher share good chemistry as Emma and Adam. While this film is typical of Kutcher’s choices, it is a bit more surprising to see Portman in such a light movie. Kevin Kline brings humour and heart as Adam’s father Alvin. The rest of the support cast is fine, but none of them really stand out.
From the heady heights of Ghost Busters via the weak My Super Ex-Girlfriend and now No Strings Attached, Ivan Reitman’s directing career seems to be on a slow downward spiral. This is probably the worst thing that this film represents.