Review: Friends with Benefits
The codependency between the leads is promising, and throughout all two hours I was pleased to see just how well Gluck once again managed to bring a new depth to guy-girl relationships, as well as let the peripheral comic geniuses of Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, and even Emma Stone and Andy Samberg (who only really appear in the first several minutes, but they’re several minutes well spent) shine through. Friends With Benefits is a first look at comedy gender justice.
But is all this pro-feminist dazzle enough to make the movie a winner? If you’re looking for an unpredictable plotline and shock-value, don’t expect to find it here; intermingled with the hopeful elements of gender equality is a true romance flick, where clichés exist up the wazoo, and the central characters really aren’t the primary focus of the comedy. As said before, Clarkson and Harrelson are scene stealers, while Kunis and Timberlake — outside of the bedroom, at least — struggle to hold their own and draw laughs.
What’s more, for everything Gluck tried to accomplish with the narrative — with an interesting look at the future of comedy — he can’t seem to make up his mind: is the movie a commentary, or is it just an all-out comedy? As a result, the film’s pace and overall comedy feel disjointed at times, and the laughs are few and far between.
All in all, then, I appreciate the work Friends With Benefits tries to accomplish, though I just wish it could’ve been even funnier, and pushed the envelope a little more.