THE first and only time I ever willingly watched an Ashton Kutcher film was in his ill-advised big screen debut, Dude, Where’s My Car.
Since then, I have perhaps wrongly assumed that the only character he is capable of playing is the bonehead frat-boy guffawing over bodily functions – essentially the same role that kick-started his career in That 70s Show.
Adding my preconceptions of the Iowan actor to the scepticism surrounding Natalie Portman starring in what essentially looked like rom-com fluff so soon after her Oscar-winning performance in Black Swan, the idea of No Strings Attached was met with utter cynicism.
But colour me surprised when Ashton Kutcher actually pulled a credible performance out of the bag.
Like the cat who got the cream, budding screenwriter Adam becomes child-hood friend Emma’s ‘friend-with-benefits’.
She’s an emotionally crippled career girl who likes it casual and he’s just been dumped by his ex, who then starts dating his dad.
Adam figures he could do worse than licking his wounds with the Holy Grail of girls as Emma lays down the ground-rules: no snuggling, no jealousy, no staying over.
Initially, it looks like a match made in heaven, but like girls all over the world who prefer to lie to themselves, Emma says one thing and means another.
With plans to keep her fling at arm’s length inevitably going array, she falls for his charm and nice-guy persona, unleashes her inner-commitment demon and ends up a crazy-girl stereotype, back-tracking on all of her good intentions. Oh Emma, you’re so naive.
The twist comes when her change of heart looks too little too late, but let’s not forget this is a chick-flick between two hot Hollywood A-listers, so the ending is a foregone conclusion.
For a rather base premise – two people using each other for sex – No Strings Attached is a quirky tale of modern romance.
For anyone entertaining the idea of a friendly tryst, it’s a rather rude awakening that humans tend to fail spectacularly at separating emotion from physicality unless both parties are completely truthful about any inconvenient feelings that may arise.
It’s not groundbreaking work, Portman is fairly two dimensional and Kutcher still does what he does best: wandering around half-naked looking typically ‘abulous’.
But considering the appalling marketing, the film is completely acceptable, and more so than the poster gives its credit for.