When we saw the trailers for Ivan Reitman’s No Strings Attached, we all had the same basic reaction: “Oh, boy, Natalie Portman in a sex comedy!
“, a thought that was immediately followed by: “Oh, no, Ashton Kutcher.” Yes, over the past decade, Kutcher has found more success as a “personality”, camera salesman, and a reality TV producer than he seems to have found as an actor: despite a few middle-of-the-road successes at the box office, his filmography has left film geeks cold. Would No Strings Attached be the first film that breaks away from that sad truth? Or would No Strings Attached be more Killers-level crap? Read on for our full review after the jump to find out, folks.
Let’s say you’re like millions of Americans, and you just don’t want to see Ashton Kutcher in your movies. It’s understandable.
Kutcher was reasonably good on FOX’s highly successful That 70’s Show (y’know, if you’re the type that enjoys sitcoms) and he enjoyed another lucrative run on MTV’s Punk’d, but in the years since those series came and went, he’s divided his time into three serious link different ventures: producing (he does a fair amount of reality TV), being married to Demi Moore (which we can only assume is its own full-time job), and starring in films like Killers (which no one should ever be forced to see). Kutcher’s films– which also include Spread and Guess Who– have run the gamut from “moderately successful” to “not successful”, and so it would seem that Kutcher has had better luck with his TV work than in his film career.
So, imagine my surprise when I discovered No Strings Attached to be a slightly above-average, highly-likable, gleefully-raunchy-in-places rom-com (wow, that’s a whole bunch of dashes)
While it’s true that Kutcher can be blamed– at least in part– for the horrific (and mercifully fleeting) popularity of “Trucker-style hats”, and while it’s also true that he does come off as a bit of a frat-boy d-bag in all those camera commercials he stars in, he does have a sort-of understandable likability to him, and it’d be disingenuous not to admit that he’s easy on the eyes (for ladies and discerning gentlemen). But as far as having an on-screen presence that’s genuinely compelling or entertaining, he has– for my money, anyway– fallen short time and time again. I simply don’t want to see movies with Ashton Kutcher in them.
For example: I simply refused to see No Strings Attached when it hit theaters, despite the fact that the trailers indicated that Natalie Portman would also be featured in the film in various states of undress. As far as I was concerned, “Natalie Portman” was cancelled out by “Ashton Kutcher”, and once you factored in the fact that No Strings Attached is– above all things– a romantic-comedy, there didn’t seem to be any reason for me to waste my time with the film. Chances were, I wouldn’t like it, and further chances were that I’d have my opinion of Natalie Portman somewhat tarnished. And no one wants to have their opinion of Natalie Portman tarnished. As such, I steered clear of the film until the Blu-ray arrived on my porch, and it took every ounce of willpower in my body to sit myself down on the couch to watch it unfold. I expected Yogi Bear levels of disaster.
No Strings Attached isn’t the best romantic comedy you’ll ever see, and it probably won’t convince you that Ashton Kutcher’s the best on-screen presence since Christoph Waltz, but it will make you laugh (infrequently, yes, but moreso than you might expect), and if you’re being suckered into a “chick flick” night with your lady-friend, there are far worse ways to spend your time (Killers, I name-drop you again).