If I’m totally honest with myself, I really enjoy ‘rom-coms’. There’s something about the combination of wit and romance (no matter how cheesy) which tends to cheer me up, no matter the quality of the film. On this occasion, the film-makers have tried to transcend the genre by being very self-aware. On numerous occasions, Jamie (Played by the wonderful Mila Kunis) talks about Rom-Coms and the way they build up a false idea of what romance is like. By doing this early on, it gave me the impression that this film might be a completely original and unconventional Rom-Com, which at first it seemed true. However, like most other ‘rom-coms’, it descended into every generic convention in the book. It had the cheesy music; the break up and reconciliation in the final act; and the cute romantic stunt which wins the girl over.
So ultimately, “Friends with Benefits” becomes exactly what the first half of the film is a satire of. I wouldn’t mind if the film had been conventional and checked all the criteria for a ‘rom-com’, if it hadn’t already made out that doing this was a bad thing.
Despite this, much of the film really was enjoyable, mainly down to the lead couple. Justin Timberlake is proving that he is not just a talented singer and dancer. but can nail comedy and drama with wit, charm and an affable quality which is surprising considering his ‘superstar’ status. Mila Kunis, yet again, confirms her skills as a leading lady (after excellent turns in Black Swan and Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and is sure to go on to bigger and better things than this sort of film.
Will Gluck’s (Director) previous film, Easy A, had something different about it though, it really was different from the run of the mill ‘rom-coms’ we are spoon fed by the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Hugh Grant. Maybe I had unfairly high expectations for this effort, but in reality it seems that there was no conviction in the filmmaker’s attempt to really defy the conventions of the genre and ultimately this made the film far less enjoyable than if it had just gone for plain and simple Rom-Com.