2011 Certificate: 15


Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis make witty whoopee as a pair of successful but commitment-shy cynics who agree to take their friendship into the bedroom while leaving all emotional baggage at the door. Unfortunately, it seems that where friends are concerned, there's no such thing as uncomplicated sex. Benefiting from a sharp script, genuine spark between the two leads and fine support from Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson and Richard Jenkins, the director of Easy A makes it two cool and sassy sex-coms in a row.


  • Will Gluck


  • Justin Timberlake

  • Mila Kunis

  • Woody Harrelson

  • Richard Jenkins

  • Patricia Clarkson

  • Jenna Elfman


While showing a healthy disregard for romantic comedies, director Will Gluck's follow-up to his equally raunchy sleeper smash Easy A is essentially When Harry Met Sally for the i-generation.

Yet a shared disdain for Hollywood laugh-and-love stories is one of the things that unites romantically disillusioned New Yorker Jamie (Black Swan's Kunis) and online marketing genius Dylan (Timberlake).

This they discover when corporate recruiter Jamie lures Dylan from LA to the Big Apple with a top job at GQ magazine. It's the beginning of a beautiful friendship. However, since both have just been dumped, commitment is a four-letter word.

Sex, on the other hand, is not. So after agreeing to keep their relationship purely non-platonic, the quick-bantering pair are soon at it like bunnies. Ridiculously cute-bunned bunnies.

It's all good, dirty fun... until they decide to start dating again and all those pesky, life-affirming, heart-wrenching, unpredictable feelings begin to kick in.

It doesn't take a degree in Freudian theory to see where it's all heading. But on top of the constantly engaging snap, crackle and pop between Timberlake and Kunis, there are plenty of other diversions on the way.

Clarkson and Harrelson are typically great value as, respectively, Jamie's super-liberal mum and GQ's super-gay sports editor, while Kunis' Forgetting Sarah Marshall costar Jason Segel, Andy 'Hot Rod' Samberg and Easy A's Emma Stone also pitch in with game cameos (though the presence of snowboard star Shaun White will be lost on anyone unfamiliar with the US winter sports scene).

And though the script never loses its saltiness, issues are put in more serious perspective when Dylan takes Jamie to meet his Alzheimer's afflicted father (Jenkins; faultless) and big sister Annie (Jenna Elfman; ditto) at their beach home in LA. It's these latter two who give the film its soul.

That said, we could probably live without Annie's insipid, magic-obsessed son. Especially since we have to live without Jamie and Dylan's respective Asian friends who appear at the start but, like any other pals they may have, are entirely absent for the rest of the film.

The reliance on app-related gags and plot devices may also begin to grate, but when they're done well - as in the two 'flash mob' dance scenes - they definitely add to the sugar rush.

You could be forgiven for presuming that one year's No Strings Attached comedy will be much like another. But Friends With Benefits comes with one key difference: it's funny.

Elliott Noble