We’ve come a long way from the 1980’s. The 1989 classic comedy “When Harry Met Sally” which asked whether a man and a woman could be good friends without romance getting in the way. The 2010 repulsive comedy “No Strings Attached,” asks whether or not two “sex friends” can keep sleeping with each other without actual feelings getting in the way. Aside from its dumb plot, “Attached” is over-sexed, overdone and overcome by a terrible script.
The story begins by introducing us to two young people named Adam and Emma who are at camp together. After a brief and unfunny scene where Adam asks to do a sexual act with Emma, the story flashes ahead a couple for years. After another dead-end scene, the story flashes forward again showing us the other early meetings between the duo. The story finally settles on the couple at an older age, where they are played by Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman.
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Adam is a regular single guy who has recently gotten over a break-up with his ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately, she continues to be a part of his life when he discovers that she’s dating his father Alvin (Kevin Kline). Alvin is an airhead Hollywood actor who doesn’t understand why his son would have issues with his new girlfriend. Like the caricature of actors often portrayed in films and television shows, Alvin is beloved by his fans but despised by his own child. If given strong material, Kline could have earned a few laughs in his role as a childish and immature parent. Instead, the role is thankless and unfunny.
In the Alvin scenes and in many other ones, the story’s humor stems from raunchy jokes and sexual punchlines. From jokes about sex to women’s periods to lesbians, this story features dozens of punch lines that just don’t work. From its start “No Strings” is more interested in sex than in its characters and it shows in the relationship between Alex and Emma.
The romance that eventually starts between the two never feels real. Adam begins developing feelings for Emma but the two characters never really connect. Even as they start formally dating, the chemistry doesn’t exist between Kutcher and Portman and neither character is interesting to watch. The dialogue during their ” romance” is often unbelievable and at times, it is downright atrocious.
For good measure, the story also throws in the typical romantic comedy subplots that stand in the couple’s way. One of Emma’s colleagues develops feelings for her and confronts Adam about it. He knows that Emma and Adam are fooling around but believes that she will end up with him. Alex, on the other hand, finds a girl who likes him as well, further complicating his relationship with Emma.
Ultimately, “No Strings Attached” relies on cliches and unfunny sexual jokes. The story has none of the chemistry or idealism of other romantic comedies. “No Strings Attached” is a completely forgettable entry in this genre. Its plot should only remind viewers how good movies like “When Harry Met Sally” are. That movie was both romantic and very funny. “Attached” is neither and should be ignored.