No Need To See No Strings Attached
January is usually the dumping ground for bad movies. It happens every year: After the glut of December award qualifiers comes the bombs that have languished on the shelf or a string of limp sex comedies.
This January is no exception.
The month began with the release of a Nicolas Cage fiasco called Season of the Witch. (My hope for 2011: please no more Nic Cage movies EVER. Can the Democrats and Republicans please unite and call for a ban on this supremely untalented actor?) The new Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher "comedy" is not much better.
This film is depressing for a number of reasons—the least being that it is a bad movie. Academy Award nominee Natalie Portman co-produced this dog, and if she has any hopes of taking home the prize this year she had better hope Oscar voters skip this turkey.
Portman is a pretty and talented actress, but like an upscale Jennifer Aniston, she seems to take every part that comes along. Ashton Kutcher is sexy and funny, and proved on That ’70s Show that he does have talent, but most of his feature films have him playing the bored, sexy, and somewhat dim stud. Yet he is charming and funny in No Strings and has a rear nude scene.
The director of this witless farce is Ivan Reitman, who has made some successful films (like Ghostbusters), but has no real talent that I can see. Plus the dialogue is just crude. Witness the first scene where we see the two leads as 13-year-olds in a summer camp awkwardly sitting together. The scene ends with the Kutcher character asking: "Can I finger you?" Screen legends Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges must be rolling in their celestial graves watching the art of romantic comedy reduced to such garbage.
Wasting Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher is one thing, but what this film does to Kevin Kline is a crime. Kline is one of the most amusing and talented actors in Hollywood history, and seeing him reduced to playing the former sitcom hero father of Ashton Kutcher is doubling depressing. While Kline manages to be funny (and even sexy—at 63, he pulls off a tight speedo) in this silly role, watching a talented actor in something this poorly written and directed is not fun. He deserves better.
The other most annoying part of No Strings Attached are the minor characters. Kutcher has two best friends: a white man with two gay dads and a black man who seems to have no function except to say "Look at my face" when he’s attempting to give dating advice. And the two gay dads? They’re fat and effeminate—easy targets for the mainstream audience. Portman, on the other hand, has three roommates: a white girl, a woman of color, and a creepy gay man. God forbid they put a sexy actor in a gay role. Why must gay characters be creepy or overweight in order to be palatable to hetero audiences?
The fate of the romantic comedy is in serious jeopardy. Cheap, coarse dialog and poorly scripted character motivation have taken over. No Strings Attached is no better or worse than the recent Jennifer Aniston, Katherine Heigl films but this one does have two talented leads and one comedy genius. Couldn't they have come up with something better than this? No Sense Asking.