“No Strings Attached” poses the question: Is it possible to regularly have sex with someone and not run a risk of falling in love? The answer is yes. Now that we have that settled, consider the case of Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher), who first met when they were 6 and now meet when they’re maybe 26. Busy people. He’s a low-rent TV producer and she’s a medical student. She doesn’t have time for romance, and he’s dating the sexy Vanessa (played by the well-named Ophelia Lovibond).
All of this is fun while it lasts. Then the wheels of Hollywood morality begin to grind. There was a time when the very premise of this film would have been banned, but times change, and now characters can do pretty much anything as long as they don’t get away with it. Although “No Strings Attached” might have been more fun if Adam and Emma had investigated the long-term possibilities of casual sex, it is required that the specter of Romantic Love raise its ominous head. Are they … becoming too fond? Emma suggests they try sleeping with others so, you know, they won’t get too hung up on each other. If you’ve ever seen a romantic comedy you know how that works. Experience shows that not sleeping with others is the foolproof way of not getting too hung up, etc.
This is a strange film. Its premise is so much more transgressive than its execution. It’s as if the 1970s never happened, let alone subsequent decades. Emma and Adam aren’t modern characters. They’re sitcom characters allowed to go all the way like grown-ups.
You should read the whole thing. And if you’re bored and looking for more Ebert reviews, I would recommend this old-ish one, where he eviscerates Nicholas Sparks. It’s the best take-down I’ve seen since Bruni reviewed Cipriani.
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