Friday, January 28, 2011

No Strings Attached

A tragedy has befallen my apartment. I no longer have internet access. It departed from these lands when my roommate went away for Christmas break, at which time I assumed that when she returned, she would bring the Internet with her. However, that did not happen, so now my only contact with civilization is on my mobile web browser, which is tiny, slow, and has an allergy to frames. I thought all was lost, until I discovered that Wegmans offered free wifi in the “cafĂ©” area. This left me with two options: call Comcast, argue over the phone for an hour, schedule a day long appointment, and then buy a bunch of new cables, or starting hanging out at Wegmans. Given that Comcast is a black hole of time, money, and the human spirit, while Wegmans has four buffets and serves Miller Lite at the checkout counter, the solution seemed clear. I can even pick up some shampoo!

So here I am, finally able to update my blog. I’ve seen a lot of movies in the past month, but today we’re going to discuss No Strings Attached, because I saw it two days ago and it’s still pissing me off.

This “movie” stars Natalie Portman (who was also the executive producer) and Ashton Kutcher. You may recall that Natalie Portman recently starred in the film “Black Swan,” for which she awarded a Golden Globe, and nominated for an Academy Award, for which she is the favorite to win. Bear this in mind as you read on. Ashton Kutcher, on the other hand, recently appeared in “Valentines Day” and “Killers,” both of which landed him a nomination for Worst Actor in the Razzies. I have seen both of these movies, and I can assure you that “Killers” was the worst movie of 2010. Some might tell you “Jonah Hex,” but what those people fail to tell you is that “Jonah Hex” is almost an hour shorter than “Killers.” This may lead one to wonder, Why would Natalie Portman give the performance of a lifetime in an Oscar worthy film, and then decide not only star in, but executive produce a shitty romcom with Asthon Kutcher?

One reporter wondered enough to ask her himself. Her explanation was that she was tired of seeing romantic comedies about sappy, desperate girls who spend the entire movie pining for a man. While I agree with her on that, the current romcom formula isn’t “pining sappy girl,” it’s “sexy workaholic scurries around the big city in high heels. She’s the motivated, successful girl who’s got everything – but she’s too organized for her own good! UNTIL SHE MEETS A SILLY CAREFREE MAN WHO TEACHES HER HOW TO DANCE LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING – AND LOVE LIKE NO ONE’S LOOKING.”
Anyway, so Natalie Portman essentially decides to make a feminist romcom, (which is pretty much an oxymoron), about a woman who doesn’t want a relationship, she just wants a fuck buddy. It begins when the protagonist is fifteen at summer camp. Everyone else at camp is hooking up and making out with each other, but she’s sitting on the outs with her friend Ashton Kutcher. She says she’s weird, and asks if that bothers him. He says his parents are getting divorced and starts crying. She tries to comfort him, and he asks if he can finger her. End scene.

I honestly can’t even fathom why this scene is in the movie. The characters never speak again until ten years later – the fact that they met once in adolescence has no bearing on the story whatsoever. They aren’t “lifelong friends,” they don’t even try to use the “but he’s like my brother!” angle. It’s pointless. I have no idea why they chose to show us that she didn’t kiss anyone at summer camp. It would be like if there was a flashback in Titanic where we find out Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t like ice cream when he was seven.

Fast forward through a bunch of scenes of Natalie’s character in college that also make no sense whatsoever, and somehow we end up with Natalie tricking Ashton into going to her father’s funeral. He shows up wearing cargo shorts and a Michigan hoodie, thinking it was a date, and ends up having to wear that to the cemetery. Hilarity ensues? After the funeral, we cut back to the family home, where Natalie tells Ashton that he’s a great guy, and he’ll be lucky if he never sees Natalie again.
From here on out, it’s just a two hour montage of Ashton trying “woo” Natalie, while she insists they remain fuck buddies. Ashton is wonderful and amazing (gag me), but Natalie is terrified of falling in love because she might get her heart broken (kill me.) There’s also some bullshit at the end about Natalie’s little sister getting married at 22 (stupid) and how she teaches Natalie about risking it all for love. Eventually Natalie comes to her senses and realizes Ashton is the perfect man, and they fall in love and get committed. Credits roll, and I leave the theater, wishing I were committed – to an institution.

I don’t even know where to start with this movie. What were you thinking, Natalie Portman? This is even more misogynistic than an ordinary romcom. First of all, the protagonist just wants to be fuck buddies, yes, but it’s not because she’s independent and confident, it’s because men are scary. She’s extremely timid and insecure, and constantly having mini freak outs about Ashton “getting too close.” She says herself that he’d be lucky to never have to see her again. The fact that she isn’t hooking up in high school and college almost makes the situation creepy, like they’re trying to tell us she’s not even a sexual person. How did she go from reserved and uninterested to demanding sex daily followed by anxiety meltdowns? It’s never explored – they spend too much time documenting Ashton’s father’s sexual exploits with Ashton’s ex “foreign” model girlfriend, whose accent switches between British, French, Swiss, and shitty. (I’m not making this up.) Second of all, even if she were really progressive and independent and therefore didn’t want a relationship because she legitimately didn’t need one, it wouldn’t matter anyway because the moral of the story is that women only think they’re independent until they meet the right man.

Natalie Portman isn’t even really the star. Here’s what we know about Ashton: He’s an assistant for a teen musical TV show, his dream is to become a writer, his dad was a famous TV performer who has cast a shadow over Ashton his entire life, his ex girlfriend dumped him for his dad, he writes episodes for the TV show in his spare time but he’s always been too afraid to show the big execs. Here’s what we know about Natalie: She’s a doctor. She likes to fuck. She has some roommates, who are the only funny and/or interesting people in the entire movie. Oh, and her dad died.

It’s basically a movie about Ashton Kutcher, and how he molds Natalie. It’s like Taming of the Shrew, but it’s even worse because this time it was written by a woman. A woman who was just nominated for BEST ACTRESS in a movie that was just nominated for BEST PICTURE, which I have seen twice, and loved. It’s unfortunate that less than 30 days after I decided I love Natalie Portman, I have to go back to hating her. This movie didn’t need a skilled actress, it might as well have starred Kate Hudson.

The only redeemable people in this movie were Natalie’s roommates, played by Greta Gerwig and Mindy Kaling. Greta Gerwig hasn’t been in many mainstream movies – she was in Greenberg last year. Mindy Kaling is known for playing Kelly on the The Office. I read another review that said they should have scrapped the entire movie and wrote a new one with just those two going on a road trip, and I totally agree.

Also, there’s another movie coming out in July called Friends with Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis and it is the exact same movie, but probably way better. This one was completely unnecessary and I think Natalie Portmans owes the world an apology.

Feminist RomCom Success: 0/5
Likelihood of Bruce Willis being forced to increase alimony payments to talentless Asthon Kutcher and Demi Moore as a result of this bomb: 5/5