No Strings Attached (film)

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No Strings Attached
the characters, getting dressed in a bedroom and smiling at each other.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Produced by
  • Jeffrey Clifford
  • Joe Medjuck
  • Ivan Reitman
Screenplay by Elizabeth Meriwether
Story by
  • Elizabeth Meriwether
  • Mike Samonek
Starring
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Rogier Stoffers
Editing by Dana E. Glauberman
Studio
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • January 21, 2011 (2011-01-21) (USA & Canada)
Running time 108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]
Box office $147,780,440[2]

No Strings Attached is a 2011 American romantic comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. Written by Elizabeth Meriwether, the film is about two friends who decide to make a pact to have "no strings attached" casual sex without falling in love with each other. The film was released in the United States and Canada on January 21, 2011.

Plot[edit]

After first meeting at a summer camp as teenagers, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) run into each other a few times when they're young adults but never manage to keep in touch. Now Emma's a resident at a hospital in Los Angeles and Adam's a production assistant for a musical television show. Adam's dad (Kevin Kline), the well-known star of a former hit television comedy series, has begun a romance with Adam's ex-girlfriend, Vanessa (Ophelia Lovibond). When Adam finds out he gets drunk and starts calling the women in his cell phone directory seeking a hookup. The next morning, waking up with a hangover, he finds himself on a sofa wearing nothing—there's only a small towel covering his mid-body region. It turns out that he texted Emma and then came to the apartment she shares with some other residents—Patrice (Greta Gerwig), Shira (Mindy Kaling), and Guy (Guy Branum). Once he was there he took off all his clothes and then passed out. Emma leads Adam to her bedroom to retrieve his missing pants and they end up having sex.

The second time they have sex they're at Adam’s house, and before she leaves he agrees to her proposal for a casual relationship (as she puts it, using each other for sex and nothing else—in other words, with no strings attached). He warns Emma that she'll fall in love with him, but she dismisses that idea and sets some ground rules to keep what they’re doing from becoming too serious. At first things go well, but then Adam becomes jealous when Sam (Ben Lawson)—another hospital resident Emma works with—seeks her attention. Adam brings Emma a gift (a CD mix he's put together for her) and she rebuffs him, saying they should stop for a while and hook up with other people. But after being apart for two weeks Emma returns to Adam and they continue being sex friends only.

A few months later in early February it's Adam's birthday. He has to go out for dinner with his dad and Vanessa—they announce their plan to have a baby together. Adam’s brought Emma with him to the restaurant where she berates the other couple while defending Adam. He persuades her to go out together on Valentine's Day. Things fall apart when she becomes too uncomfortable during the date. An angry Emma advises Adam that he should find someone else who won’t hurt him. Adam tells Emma that he loves her—something she's not at all receptive to hearing—and they have a fight. Their no strings attached arrangement ends.

Six weeks later a script Adam wrote for the television program he works on is being filmed. Adam gets a regular writing job on the show with the help of Lucy (Lake Bell)—she’s the assistant to the show's director (Jennifer Irwin) and she’s clearly attracted to Adam. Meanwhile, Emma’s depressed—she's become distraught at not being with Adam. The situation's compounded and complicated by her younger sister Katie's (Olivia Thirlby) wedding the next day and her widowed mother (Talia Balsam) arriving for the event with a male companion (Brian Dierker) of her own. It turns out that Emma feels she’s being strong for her mom by not letting herself get too close to anyone. This way her mom won't become upset by seeing Emma get hurt if a relationship ends poorly. Emma's mom tells her to stop doing that.

When Emma confesses that she can't stop thinking about Adam, Katie insists that her sister has to call him to start putting things right between them. So a nervous Emma phones Adam and lets him know that she misses him. His response is that they were never really together—she fails to win him back. Realizing now that she needs to speak with him in person, Emma leaves Santa Barbara—where the wedding’s taking place the next day—and drives to Adam's house in Los Angeles. Her plans are ruined, however—and she has to hide to avoid being seen—when he arrives home with Lucy. Emma assumes Adam has a new girlfriend and tearfully drives away. Vanessa calls Adam before he and Lucy can have sex—his dad’s overdosed on a cough syrup-based drink. Meeting Adam outside the hospital, Vanessa says that she wants out of her relationship with his dad and then departs for a party. Adam goes in to visit his dad who surprisingly gives him some tender advice about falling in love.

Shira lets Emma know about Adam's dad being admitted to the hospital, so she drives there. As Adam leaves the building he phones Emma to tell her that she has to be present if she's going to say that she misses him. Emma gets out of her car as the call ends and Adam's stunned to suddenly find her there to talk with him the way he wants. She tells Adam that she’s sorry she hurt him, confesses that she really loves and cares about him in return, and they reconcile with some passionate kissing. After eating breakfast together the next morning—something that's never happened before—they arrive in Santa Barbara just before Katie's wedding is starting. As they enter a room and pause Emma asks Adam what will happen next, and with a lips-still-together smile he silently intertwines her hand with his—for the first time they're holding hands together as a loving romantic couple.

Further events in the lives of the characters are shown during the initial ending credits. Adam’s dad and Lucy are in a relationship, and they’re in a restaurant waiting for Adam to arrive to let him know about it. Adam’s roommate (Jake Johnson) and Patrice are in a relationship, and they’re shown meeting his two gay dads. Vanessa told Adam that old people scare her, so she’s ridden with anxiety when she’s trapped in an elevator full of senior citizens. Adam and Emma are seen kissing in the park. Sam and Shira are in a relationship, but he wants his freedom and isn't pleased when she reveals that she’s already been seeing other men. Katie’s having a baby and Emma’s the delivering doctor. Guy lures a nervous-looking Sam into a hospital room, presumably for an encounter between them. And finally Adam and Emma are shown peacefully sleeping together, spooning while fully clothed.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

No Strings Attached is directed by Ivan Reitman based on a screenplay by Elizabeth Meriwether titled Friends With Benefits.[citation needed] The title was changed to avoid confusion with a different film with a similar premise that opened on July 22, 2011. The Paramount Pictures film was first announced in March 2010 as an untitled project. Actors Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman were cast in the lead roles, and Paramount anticipated a release date of January 7, 2011.[3] Reitman said of casual sex, "I noticed from my own kids that with this generation in particular, young people find it easier to have a sexual relationship than an emotional one. That is how the sexes deal with each other today."[4] Principal photography began in May 2010.[5] By November 2010, the film was titled No Strings Attached with a new release date of January 21, 2011.[4]

Though the timing was coincidental, Portman welcomed the chance to portray a dissimilar character to her role in Black Swan.[6]

Release[edit]

Theatrical run[edit]

No Strings Attached had its world premiere on January 11, 2011 at the Fox Village Theater in Los Angeles, California.[7] The film was released in 3,018 theaters in the United States and Canada on January 21, 2011.[2] Its target demographic was women between 17 and 24 years old, and its primary competition was The Dilemma.[citation needed] Interest tracking reflected the target demographic's gaining interest in the film leading up to its release, and tracking also revealed "good early awareness" from Hispanic audiences.[citation needed] The studio predicted for the film to gross in the "mid-to-high teens" millions in its opening weekend,[8] similar to past romantic comedies rated "R" (restricted to 17 years old and up) by the Motion Picture Association of America. With No Strings Attached as the only wide opener in the United States and Canada, it was uncertain if it would rank first at the box office above The Green Hornet, which opened the previous weekend in first place with $33.5 million.[1]

Ultimately, No Strings Attached beat The Green Hornet with an opening weekend gross of $20.3 million. 70% of the audience were women.[9] According to CinemaScore, audiences under the age of 25 gave the film an "A-" grade while audiences over the age of 25 gave it a "B" grade. Future grosses were expected to be dependent on the younger demographic.[10]

The film has grossed $70.7 million in the United States and Canada and $77.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $147.7 million.[2]

Home media[edit]

No Strings Attached was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on May 10, 2011.[11]

Reception[edit]

The film has received mixed reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 49% based on reviews from 161 critics and reports a rating average of 5.2 out of 10.[12] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 50% based on 36 reviews.[13] According to Rotten Tomatoes the consensus is: "It benefits from the presence of Natalie Portman and director Ivan Reitman's steady hand, but No Strings Attached doesn't have the courage or conviction to follow through on its ribald premise." It said, "The pundits say Portman and Kutcher keep things genial and easygoing, but they're let down by a middling script that shoehorns in a little too much raunchy material."[14]

Critic David Edelstein described No Strings Attached as a film with "a supposedly feminist veneer...(that) never makes the case for Emma's point of view. It's almost a feminist backlash movie, and it didn't have to be. There are plenty of reasons for brilliant young women, especially with the stress of a medical career, to approach time- and emotion-consuming relationships warily." He expressed disappointment on overuse of stock characters, as well as Reitman's "heavy-handed" direction and a story that is ultimately "corny and contrived and conservative."[15] A. O. Scott called the film "not entirely terrible...high praise indeed, given that this is a film aspiring to match the achievement of 27 Dresses, When in Rome and Leap Year"; according to Scott, the film is "Love & Other Drugs without the disease", a film whose pleasures "are to be found in the brisk, easy humor of some of Ms. Meriwether's dialogue and in the talented people scattered around Ms. Portman and Mr. Kutcher like fresh herbs strewn on a serving of overcooked fish."[16] Scott considered "the film's great squandered opportunity—and also the source of some of its best comic moments—is that Ms. Gerwig and Mindy Kaling in effect share the role of Emma’s zany sidekick. How can this be? Why are these two entirely original and of-the-moment performers marginal players in this agreeable, lackluster picture and not stars of the year’s greatest girl-bromance?... To imagine Ms. Kaling and Ms. Gerwig in a remake of Thelma and Louise or the Wedding Crashers is to experience an equal measure of frustration and hope. Why can’t we have a few movies like that and not quite so many like this?"[16]

British newspaper The Telegraph named No Strings Attached one of the ten worst films of 2011, saying "No Strings Attached is nominally a raunchy romantic comedy, but Natalie Portman betrays so little indication of enjoying herself you’d be forgiven for thinking we were watching deleted scenes from Black Swan."[17]

Music [edit]

The soundtrack includes songs such as "Bossa Nova Baby" (from 1963), "I Wanna Sex You Up" (from 1991), the 2010 European-charting "Bang Bang Bang", the 2010 Acharting "Love Lost", a cover version of "99 Problems". and "Bleeding love"

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela (January 20, 2011). "Natalie Portman's 'No Strings Attached' Goes Up Against 'Green Hornet' at the Box Office". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  2. ^ a b c "No Strings Attached (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved April 11, 2011. 
  3. ^ McClintock, Pamela (March 17, 2010). "Reitman to direct Kutcher, Portman". Variety. 
  4. ^ a b Wloszczyna, Susan (November 4, 2010). "First look: Kutcher, Portman star in 'No Strings Attached'". USA Today. 
  5. ^ Rooney, David (May 5, 2010). "Making a Success of Her Messiness on Two Coasts". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ "Natalie Portman 'Really Proud' Of 'No Strings Attached'". Huffington Post. January 19, 2011. 
  7. ^ McNary, Dave (January 12, 2011). "'Strings' preem pulls in celebs". Variety. 
  8. ^ Abrams, Rachel (January 21, 2011). "Will Par's 'Strings' resonate?". Variety. 
  9. ^ Stewart, Andrew (January 23, 2011). "'No Strings' tops weekend B.O.". Variety. 
  10. ^ Fritz, Ben (January 24, 2011). "Company Town: Women help make 'No Strings Attached' a winner". Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ "No Strings Attached (2011)". VideoETA.com. Retrieved 2011-08-02.
  12. ^ "No Strings Attached". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved February 8, 2011. 
  13. ^ "No Strings Attached". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved February 8, 2011. 
  14. ^ Ryan, Tim (January 21, 2011). "Critics Consensus: No Strings Attached Is A Little Frayed". Rotten Tomatoes (Flixster). Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  15. ^ Edelstein, David (January 21, 2011). "'No Strings Attached': Corny, Contrived, Conservative". NPR. 
  16. ^ a b Scott, A.O. (January 20, 2011). "A Firm Commitment to Casual". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  17. ^ "Ten worst films of 2011". The Telegraph (London). December 15, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 

External links[edit]