Friends With Benefits

Review Haiku

I think I’m hitting

A wall, even though I thought

This movie was good

Rating: 3/5

The Wall

Yesterday was a football Sunday, perhaps that’s why I approached The Wall. Perhaps it happened because I’m on movie number six, and the tropes and cliches of romantic comedies are already penetrating my skull and festering like some catchy pop ballad. Maybe it’s because the moment is fast approaching when all my reviews will appear to blend together in an amalgamation of similarity, rendering movie number 25 no different from movie number 14.

All I know is this: after six days (just six days!) of David’s RomCom Challenge 2015, I came up against The Wall. Frankly, I was tired and wanted to watch the Sunday Night Football game. But duty grabbed me by the balls and yanked me back into the fray. Football had to wait. I had a job to do, and that job was to watch my romantic comedy for the day.

Remember, folks – I wake up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to go to work, and I had just spent an afternoon traipsing from bar to bar to apartment to watch the Redskins lay a smackdown on the Rams (woot woot). I arrived home at 7:30ish and didn’t start the movie until 8:30. I try to get to bed no later than 10:30, so I was really cutting it close.

I’m bringing this all up because I think everyone should realize how hard I’m working here. David’s RomCom Challenge 2015 is a serious excursion. Last night proved to me that not only will this be hard, but that I also have the acumen to do it. I may be a mere one-sixth of the way done (gulp), but I’m going to finish strong, dammit.

Sexy time with Justin and Mila

For what was essentially a 109-minute bedroom romp with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, Friends with Benefits was surprisingly funny and, at times, devastatingly sad. Much of the film’s success lies in the two leads’ ability to connect. I can’t stress this enough. Justin and Mila would make a great couple, we all know this, and I’m willing to bet that their interactions in this movie are simply a preview of what would actually happen if they were together in real life.

Of course, in real life, these two wouldn’t have time to pork like goddamn bunny rabbits, which is exactly what happens in the movie. Jamie (Kunis) is a head hunter trying to hire Dylan (Timberlake) as a client at GQ. They become good friends and decide to have gratuitous sex without the anchor of commitment. This was the plot of When Harry Met Sally, and I’m quite positive I will see it in action about ten more times over the next month. The difference between Friends with Benefits and When Harry Met Sally is that the former includes more sex than you could ever imagine. Not graphic sex, though we do see Justin’s ass from time to time (and although we “see” Mila’s, I was disappointed to later learn that was a body double). Just sex, sex, sex. Dear God, these people love to bang. I counted at least eight separate scenes where they were doing the dirty.

There was lots of sex, yes. But these scenes often inspired the best dialogue, an Intercourse Discourse, if you will, including a scene where Dylan sings a Third Eye Blind song in the middle of the fun. It’s hilarious and this continues for pretty much the entirety of the film. I mean, they just look like they’re having such a good time making this movie. I have to believe some of the scenes were only semi-scripted, and that ad-libbing ruled the day in the bedroom.

Fuck me this movie was sad

For two-thirds of the movie, everyone is happy and overjoyed about everything and the world is perfect and there is no war and no cancer and no bad people and everyone just moves to New York and does flash mobs before going home and having impossible amounts of sex from dusk till dawn, waking up the next morning to a bright and sunny gem of a day and walking off to high-paying jobs before arriving back home once again to fornicate shamelessly. It’s a rollicking good time.

Then, we meet Dylan’s dad and the weight of Alzheimer’s is dumped on our shoulders, crushing us and taking this movie to another place.

Alzheimer’s is very sad, obviously, and a fear of many people who despise the very thought of it. Friends With Benefits traverses this topic with stunning ability, and creates a character in Dylan’s father that is both inspiring and devastating. Getting into the details is just going to depress me, but it was a very, very emotional look at the toll Alzheimer’s can take. I was surprised the movie took such an emotional turn but in the end, I think it worked out really well. Again, it’s something of a trope, but it was handled very well. Kudos, directors.

Final Thoughts

Stars everywhere: Andy Samberg and Emma Stone make very early appearances as dissatisfied lovers, and Woody Harrelson hilariously plays GQ’s very gay sports editor. But the best cameo of all is random as hell and brilliant as all get out – Shaun White.

Yes, Shaun White, the Flying Tomato, snowboarder extraordinaire. He plays himself and spends his few scenes nearly coming to blows with Dylan for no reason other than to make Shaun White look like a dick. It’s great.

Also, Jason Segel and Rashida Jones (hi, Rashida!) make a funky appearance as a couple in a romantic comedy that Jaime and Dylan watch. It was romantic comedy inception – ROMCOMCEPTION – and I thought it was a genuinely clever touch.

Hudson River landing: I love recurring jokes, no matter how random or stupid they are. At least four times in this movie, Dylan trashes the pilot who landed the plane in the Hudson River – while he’s on a plane. Naturally, he gets jeers and sneers. It’s stupid but funny. I love that shit.

This movie thinks Harry Potter is gay: A disclaimer: Harry Potter is NOT gay, and it is the greatest thing that ever happened to my generation; my children will read Harry Potter directly out of the womb and there is no changing this. That being said, this movie hilariously dumped on Harry Potter a few times.

Sam: I’m a magician not a wizard. You and your gay Harry Potter.

Dylan: You can’t deny that going to Hogwarts wouldn’t be life changing!

Yes, going to Hogwarts would be life-changing. I’m with you, Dylan. Fuck off, Sam.

Sappiness Rating: 5/10 for about 100 minutes, 500000/10 for the last 5 minutes: This movie was obviously sappy in almost every regard, but its tongue-in-cheek humor regarding emotional romantic relationships saved it from being too cheesy. Then, in the last five minutes, Dylan organizes a goddamn flash mob and brings Jamie to tears while “friendposing” (proposing as a friend, a word I made up) to her in the middle of Grand Central Station. This was some Broadway shit, and it even had “Closing Time” by Semisonic playing. Dear God.

Conclusion

I am hitting a wall. I have a long way to go. I shall overcome. This movie was better than decent and I’m surprised I’m saying that. Heck, I’d watch it again.

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