Yes, that's an *N SYNC reference. Because their 2000 album is probably my most-played ever, and shares a title with a perfectly cute romantic comedy which I saw this weekend, No Strings Attached, starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. Strange pairing, I know, but I'd like to repeat what a coworker told me, which is that she's doing a decent job so far of working her way through simulated sex scenes with cast members from That '70s Show. Who's next, Tommy Chong? Oh please let it be Tommy Chong.
When I first saw an ad for No Strings Attached a couple of months ago, I was blindsided, wondering what hip Natalie Portman of Paris, Je T'aime, The Professional, and Black Swan, was doing in a romcom with Ashton Kutcher (Just Married, What Happens in Vegas). When I realized that this was the same movie as a script I read and loved in 2008, Liz Meriweather's Fuckbuddies, it felt much better. And directed by Ivan Reitman, who's directed some classic '80s and '90s comedies, including a favorite of mine: Junior. But still, this is an Ashton Kutcher romantic comedy, and movie tickets are expensive, so I was hesitant. But throw in Mindy Kaling, and I'm in.
The movie is perfectly cute, and fairly honestly and reasonably portrays the realities of sex, dating, and relationships for young professionals. Yes, the families are kookier than average, and the house of attractive doctors is extraordinarily fancy (do they not have student loans?), but I felt like I could see my friends engaging in some of the same situations as the movie's characters do. That's what I loved so much about Meriweather's script, which was that it was written by a female contemporary, and reflected the real world we live in, and how we think, not how middle-aged men assume we do. Admittedly, her script was much, much raunchier, and tinged with a little bit more of the neuro-atypical.
Greta Gerwig, Kevin Kline, Opehlia Lovibond, and Lake Bell turned in performances that I enjoyed probably more than Natalie's and Ashton's, and according to Wikipedia, it was Cary Elwes behind Dr. Metzner's beard! I never would have known. Perhaps a beard is the modern day mask, obscuring even the varying identities of, say, a Dread Pirate Roberts? Mindy Kaling's role is regrettably small, and I am terrified that she is going to become the next Judy Greer, always the best friend, never the lead. Somebody please find a great starring role for her. She's pretty, she's funny, she can be crass - let's get this done.