Movie review: Kutcher can’t carry a romcom lead

2011-04-02 10:22

Film: No Strings Attached (Nu ­Metro)
Director: Ivan Reitman
Featuring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Lake Bell and Carey Elwes
Rating: 6/10

I am afraid it’s been official for a while now – Ashton Kutcher’s name on a poster means death to a romcom. Remember What Happens in Vegas? Ugh! Even worse was the soft-porn disaster Spread with Anne Heche. Oh dear.

Here his co-star is recent Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, who is better known for her roles in sci-fi and drama, but who steps up admirably to take on this – a true romcom lead.

The weird thing is that Kutcher is nice-looking and likeable, yet he lacks the character to hold a film together.

He’s like a playful Labrador puppy – irresistibly cute, but annoying too.

No Strings Attached is directed by comedy veteran Ivan Reitman, the man who delivered Ghostbusters and Twins in the 1980s, Kindergarten Cop and Dave in the 1990s, and Evolution and My Super Ex-Girlfriend in the noughties. No Strings Attached is his first pure romcom.

I was surprised to see that the screenplay was written by a woman, though the story was dreamed up by a man, as in patches it feels like it’s the fantasy of a lovesick teenage boy.

Emma (Portman) is a doctor doing her residency and Adam (Kutcher) is a gofer for a teen soap opera. The two meet and begin a sexual relationship.

She wants him for his body only but he wants something more. You can probably guess the rest.

The parts of this romance-by-numbers that make it more palatable are the supporting ones. Kevin Kline is hilarious as Adam’s father, a big TV star past his prime who keeps on pumping iron – and inappropriately young women too.

Lake Bell puts in a fine comedic turn as Adam’s motor-mouth work colleague with a crush, and rapper Ludacris is Adam’s go-to friend for advice.

The friends-with-benefits movie has been done much better with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs.

No Strings Attached is watchable, but it’s hard to take Kutcher seriously.

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