NEW YORK (CNS) – Screenwriter Elizabeth Meriwether’s script for the morally unmoored relationship comedy “No Strings Attached” (Paramount) finds numerous ways to describe the initial arrangement between its central characters, including “friends with benefits,” “sex friends” and at least one other crudely accurate, but unprintable variant.
All of which is to say that now-grown-up childhood acquaintances Adam (Ashton Kutcher) and Emma (Natalie Portman) – he a romantically disillusioned TV producer, she a hurried, harried, commitment-averse doctor – like to get together physically while remaining detached emotionally.
You know, like they do on the Discovery Channel.
As charted by director Ivan Reitman, the predictable arc of Adam and Emma’s ascent from the freedom of the barnyard to something resembling responsible human interaction is punctuated by such crass humor as that entailed when his immature father, Alvin (Kevin Kline), turns out to be shacking up with Adam’s ditzy ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Ophelia Lovibond).
Perhaps to prepare Adam for this unwelcome revelation, Dad – the Peter-Panish star of a once-popular but now bygone sitcom – generously shares some marijuana with him.
Although Adam is the first to get all mushy, as he and Emma find their feelings for each other getting in the way of their carefree contract, that doesn’t prevent him – red-blooded lad that he is – from playing the merry voyeur when two incidental female characters suddenly discover their secret mutual passion over cocktails at Emma’s hospital staff party.
Back at his place, he pours them more drinks then leeringly observes the preliminaries of their first encounter – they rebuff his politically incorrect efforts to add a heterosexual slant to the proceedings by joining in – before his true love inconveniently interrupts the idyllic scene by knocking at his door.
The film contains strong sexual content, including graphic nonmarital and homosexual activity, brief rear and partial nudity, drug use, pervasive bedroom humor, at least one instance of profanity and much rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O – morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.