Plot: What’s it about?
Billy Crystal said it best in “When Harry Met Sally” when he said “…no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.” And it’s true. It’s the way we’re wired (speaking as a man). There will always be a physical desire when or if you’re friends with a female, to want to have sex. Again, it’s just the way men are. In the vast array of romantic comedies, I was a bit intrigued to see something along this line as it seemed to want to cut through all the red tape that so plagues other films of this genre. I want the guy to say (and the girl to agree) “Hey, let’s just be sex friends and nothing more.” Now this is a movie and I’m inclined to agree that an arrangement like this is probably pretty rare (rarer still if the two involved look like Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher). Still, a movie is all about suspending your disbelief so let’s do that, shall we?
Adam (Ashton Kutcher) always seems to bump into Emma (Natalie Portman). Be it at summer camp or a drunken fraternity party, she’s always just…there. Nothing’s really ever happened between the two, but this time something seems, well, different. Adam has just broken up with his latest girlfriend and is enjoying working in the movie business as an assistant. His father (Kevin Kline), is a well-known actor with a catch phrase (“Great Scott!”) and, oh by the way, he’s now dating his son’s ex-girlfriend. Taking his father’s advice, Adam goes out and tries to score only to end up in, you guessed it, Emma’s apartment. He and Emma quickly do the deed and then agree to see each other only on a physical basis. Great, right? Right. It’s not before long that Adam longs to get to know Emma on more than a physical level, though her work schedule (she’s a doctor) doesn’t really permit it. This begs the question: will Adam and Emma eventually end up together, or will Adam move onto someone else?
As much as this comedy wants to break the rules of the “romantic comedy” genre, there are still some that it has to abide by. I won’t say that it’s entirely predictable, but “No Strings Attached” doesn’t exactly leave you guessing, either. Now that Natalie Portman has the moniker of “Academy Award Winning Actress” under her belt, she’ll likely be under some scrutiny for her roles the next few years. Ashton Kutcher has never really impressed me with his acting ability and I still get somewhat of a chuckle when he was cast in a movie and the director, Steven Soderbergh, told him he needed some acting lessons. But hey, the guy is an internationally recognized actor and is married to Demi Moore, so I have to admit that he’s doing something right. Lastly, I have to say that “No Strings Attached” is a bit on the raunchy side. I won’t say that I was ever offended, per se, but it’s certainly worthy of its “R” rating. I don’t know how much of a date movie this would make, but it did have me laughing out loud a few times – not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.
Video: How does it look?
Visually “No Strings Attached” looks pretty darn good. And why wouldn’t it? It’s a major release from a major studio so this 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer looks about as pristine as they come. Granted, the genre relegates that the color palette be warm and vibrant and Portman looks perpetually sun tanned. Detail and clarity are immaculate as we might expect. I noticed no issues with black levels or contrast, either. This is a new to Blu-ray movie and it delivers on the video front just as we might expect it would.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is, by and large, pretty standard. The comedy is dialogue-driven and there’s really nothing wrong with the way it sounds. Early on there’s a party scene which brings the LFE into play and some of the other scenes do involve the surrounds a bit. The mix does have some strong points and it is just above average, but as I expected there’s nothing really “wrong” with the mix at all.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Moving onto the supplements, we start off with an audio commentary by director Ivan Reitman. Reitman has given some good tracks in the past, but this one seemed a bit dull and bland for my taste. Given the subject matter, it could have been a bit more entertaining but I suppose there’s only so much one man can do or say in 108 minutes. “Sex Friends” is really nothing more than an EPK featurette with some interviews with the cast and crew. “Inside the Sassy Halls of Secret High” is a look at the fictional music video’ish feature that Ashton Kutcher’s character was an assistant on. There’s no hiding that it’s a “Glee” wannabe (and that was the point). Half a dozen deleted scenes are also included as are some “Alternate Storylines.” Something that the Blu-ray has exclusive is “Modern Love: The Do’s and Don’ts” which is a look at modern relationships and how they work. The second disc is a digital copy of the movie for your portable device.