Thankfully, it seems sappy romantic comedies have gone away — for a while, at least. Friends With Benefits is part of a new breed, a smarter and funnier take on today's tangled dating.
Starring a well-paired Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, Friends self-consciously skewers all those fairy-tale romantic comedies while acknowledging that they're still stuck in people's brains, affecting ideas of love and happiness.
Kunis plays Jamie, a corporate headhunter who lures Timberlake's Dylan, a Web site art director, to head up the art department of a sophisticated men's magazine.
Both just out of bad relationships, the two are not anxious to commit, but they connect. Dylan's even willing to sit through those romantic comedies Jamie still watches while critiquing them. And urges are urges. So they hook up as friends with benefits, as the title says.
Directed by Will Gluck (Easy A), Friends With Benefits has the zippy style of a '30s or '40s screwball comedy while never shying away from: Are they good in bed together? (we see that). And: Is that enough? These are questions never addressed or mentioned in most romantic comedies.
Friends also benefits from amusing casting, with Patricia Clarkson as Jamie's free-spirited mom and Woody Harrelson as Dylan's always-on-the-prowl gay co-worker.
It's not a perfect film but you should laugh hard enough that you'll hardly notice the few misses.
Friends With Benefits retails for $30.99 or $40.99 Blu-ray.