Friends With Benefits (2011) Review

Dylan and his father, pants-less, eating in Newark Liberty Int’l Airport

Friends With Benefits was just an excuse to maximize Timberlake’s on-screen butt time. Will Gluck really sold out. I expected a lot more out of him. Many of you are probably thinking, “Who the hell is Will Gluck?” and rightfully so. Unless you are film fanatic or someone who pays close attention to film director’s resumes, that name probably passed you by.

Sold out sounds so cliche, but it’s what Gluck did to a degree. The director was hired to make a larger budget movie with big name stars. Too many writers spoil the script and in the case of Friends With Benefits, it took 3 people to write the story, and Gluck and 2 other writers to write the screenplay. Seriously? And even with all those writers, it was all just a bunch of romps in the sack.

If a movie company was throwing obscene amounts of cash at me to make a movie exactly the way they wanted it, I’d do it too. Gotta make a living, right? Gotta pay for that new hot tub. Gotta buy that hot new Acura NSX. Gotta build that reputation in order to make more Hollywood crap. You go Gluck! I genuinely loved Fired Up, his cheerleading comedy, and Easy A with Emma Stone, but in terms of freshness I give this an Easy F. His previous films were creative and current, yet Friends is exactly what you’d expect from a romantic comedy…not much.

Friends really wants to mean something to the teens and twenty-somethings of this generation, but it’s ultimately just corporate garbage. It’s another “insert hot young star here,” and “insert another sex scene there.” Why was there 2 flash mob scenes? TWO!!! The film’s finale desperately wanted to be poignant and as memorable as when Lloyd Dobler held up his boom box in Say Anything. There’s a reason why you know that scene even though you may never have seen the movie and that’s because because it was a meaningful scene that reflected the time and has since been parodied to death. Is wooing a girl via flash mob going to be looked at the same way 20 years down the road?

Mila Kunis is certainly hot and Timberlake is truly talented but commingling them didn’t ignite any spark. Much like the embarrassing Love and Other Drugs, if you watch Friends With Benefits in mega high speed it would just look like a series of awkward sex scenes. If your Grandparents saw this movie they’d say “What are ya watchin’, porno ya pervert?!?!” It’s the typical Hollywood formula featuring a hot male actor to grab the girl moviegoers and a sexy young female star to lure in dopey guys like me. They had me at Jackie from That ’70s Show. Boy did I fall for it.

It wasn’t all boner pissing though, Friends with Benefits did deal with some serious issues. Although I had a barf bag next to me the whole time, I appreciate how the Alzheimer’s angle was handled. Unfortunately, it seemed conveniently shoehorned into the script in order to give some human qualities to its characters. The best scene of the movie is when Timberlake takes his pants off and joins his father (who’s afflicted with Alzheimer’s and has his pants off) at a restaurant for a steak dinner in Newark Liberty International Airport. I can watch Mila Kunis stare blankly into space and be content for an hour, but this scene actually had some depth.

DYLAN: “You have a boat?!?!”
TOMMY: “I live in Jersey and I ain’t takin’ no ferry…unless it’s out to dinner and a show!”

I always enjoy Woody Harrelson and this time around was no exception. He excels in random supporting roles and here he played a gay online sports journalist who constantly advertised his love of men’s genitalia. He also takes his boat across the river back to New Jersey where he lives which kicks ass because he doesn’t have to sit in traffic.

Friends with Benefits should be a sequel to The Breakup where Vaughn and Aniston really do just become friends after their breakup and one thing leads to another and they each lose their jobs at different times while the other is still working and since they aren’t dating anyone they have to angle to get put onto the others health benefits. Listen, it may sound ridiculous now, but when Universal green-lights it in 2 years you’ll be having deja-vu. But, in all seriousness, I spent the whole movie wishing that it turned into the kooky love story of Andy Samberg and Emma Stone who actually appeared in the beginning of the film. It would’ve been so much more Glucking awesome.