After his critically acclaimed performance in The Social Network, it would have been nice to see Justin Timberlake in a role that stretched him but this movie isn’t it. This is the safe movie, to keep his acting CV ticking over.
Calling it the safe movie isn’t at all derogatory. It is a rom-com that has actually remembered to add some com. Friends with benefits make fun of the usual rom-com clichés but it’s smart enough to not completely avoid them. You don’t want to upset the very audience you want to attract.
Timberlake plays Dylan, who’s moving to The Big Apple to work for GQ. Jamie (Mila Kunis) is a headhunter who convinces him to leave his LA-based blog and head to New York. Due to their disastrous past relationships, they are both attracted to the idea of no strings sex. If you’ve seen a romantic comedy before, then you’ll guess the ending within the first five minutes. But there are some nice moments. We get an actual laugh-out-loud-funny joke about an iPad. Jamie lampoons a poster of Katherine Heigel in a drunken rant and Dylan makes a Seinfeld reference, which always pleases me.
There are some great cameos too. Woody Harrelson puts in a great performance as Tommy, GQ’s gay sports editor and snowboarder Shaun White also turns up as a twisted version of himself.
My only problem with the film is the illness subplot. It really drags down the second half of the movie. Dylan’s father is ill. His father gets some great lines but Alzheimer’s is far from comedy gold. Apart from that, there isn’t much to criticise. This is a light, fun movie with enough charm and wit to keep you entertained.