Friends With Benefits

Reel Sex

If we assume the past twelve months in film reflect the time we’re living in now, then it would be easy to claim the year has been all about kinky sex and full-bodied sadness. Now, before you start preparing your arguments against my simple summation, let me clarify what I mean. On the surface the great films garnering attention (that masterpiece Jack and Jill aside) right now are in our consciousness more for the depiction of pretty people having crazy sex, rather than how the films are trying to expose the troubling nature and consequences of sex. Yes, we all know sex has consequences outside of disease and pregnancy, but the shear amount of filmmakers willing to show more than the grey, Hollywood sexual consequences (the above, plus violent Law and Order: SVU style stranger-rape) has been substantially small until this past year.

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This Week in DVD

It’s the last DVD release week of November, and judging by the stellar releases out today it’s fair to say Christmas has come early. There are several titles, big and small, deserving of a purchase or at least a rent, and they’re pretty widespread genre-wise too. Some of the week’s offerings include Tucker & Dale vs Evil, Our Idiot Brother, Friends with Benefits, 30 Minutes or Less and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Another Earth The unfortunately named Rhoda (Brit Marling) is a bright high-school graduate with a limitless future, but on the night a new planet is discovered in the night sky above she celebrates a bit too hard and smashes her car into a family of three. A few years later, Rhoda is released from prison and makes an attempt at an apology to the man (William Mapother) she injured and whose wife and child she killed. Communication with the new planet has also revealed that it is a mirror image of our own as far as geography and population, but that different choices there may have given way to different events. Marling co-wrote this intriguing and often mesmerizing sc-fi/drama with director Mike Cahill, and while the logic and explanation behind the science fiction aspects are woefully lacking the drama, character work and “what if?” scenarios are excellent. As she does in the somewhat superior Sound of My Voice Marling brings an ethereal and fragile presence to […]

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The Reject Report

Can you even imagine? A world overrun by Reject Reports? It’s like there’d be no movies, but we’d still report the weekend box office. While I stew over the quandary that’s just created, the world outside is still running smoothly. Blockbuster movies are still hitting. Small indie flicks are dividing audiences around certain parts of the country. Transformers are raking in a billion dollars. But this week, like it or not, belongs to the apes. Not Nim. I looked into it, and he’s safe, but the other ones are about to rise up and start fight back. Let’s see just how well those apes can handle themselves against the collective force of Smurfs, Captain America, and Jason Bateman.

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Culture Warrior

The cinematic doppelganger effect seems to happen on a cyclical basis. Every few years, a pair of movies are released whose concepts, narratives, or central conceits are so similar that it’s impossible to envision how both came out of such a complex and expensive system with even the fairest amount of awareness of the other. Deep Impact and Armageddon. Antz and A Bug’s Life. Capote and Infamous. Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Observe and Report. And now two R-rated studio-released romantic comedies about fuck buddies played by young, attractive superstars have graced the silver screen within only a few short months of each other. We typically experience doppelganger cinema with high-concept material, not genre fare. To see two back-to-back movies released about the secret life of anthropomorphic talking insects, a hyperbole-sized rock jettisoning towards Earth’s inevitable destruction, a Truman Capote biopic, or a movie about a mall cop seem rare or deliberately exceptional enough as a single concept to make the existence of two subsequent iterations rather extraordinary. Much has been made of the notion that Friends with Benefits is a doppelganger of No Strings Attached (the former has in more than one case been called the better version of the latter), but when talking about the romantic comedy genre – a category so well-tread and (sometimes for better, sometimes not) reliably formulaic that each film is arguably indebted to numerous predecessors – can we really say these films are doppelgangers in the same vein as the high-concept examples, or […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes retro this week and injects himself with strange chemicals in an attempt to become a World War II era super soldier. Hop over to the Fat Guys at the Movies page to see if his physique has reached the pinnacle of that of Chris Evans from Captain America. After recovering from the procedure, Kevin randomly wandering the streets, looking for hot ladies like Mila Kunis who just want to have sex but with no emotional baggage of a relationship. Sadly, this will probably end up as empty and worthless as his similar attempt last January when No Strings Attached came out.

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I think of all of the things I would consider myself (an underestimated athlete, occasionally decent word maker-upper, deceptively intriguing coffee maker…), a connoisseur of the modern romantic-comedy is probably not amongst them. I’ll admit to stopping upon a Matthew McConaughey flick from time to time on a basic cable channel while I fold my laundry, cut my nails, or other things that really make me not sound very masculine. In my defense, I only do those things whenever a rom-com is on and so I blame the estrogen emitting from my television.

The point is, I purposely don’t watch many romantic comedies and when I do I really don’t pay much attention. It isn’t because I inherently don’t like them, it’s because they unfortunately have a very, very strict formula that’s about as predictable as the average American Friday date night. “What do you wanna do? Dinner and a movie? Okay,” equates to “Hi. I like you but I don’t know it yet. I know it now. You made me cry and run away. You ran after me? I love you, kiss my face.”

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The Reject Report

He doesn’t fly. He doesn’t shoot beams out of his eyes. He doesn’t even have a cool shield to deflect negative outbursts in the comments section. He’s Captain Reject Report, and besides doing a modest job predicting the box office each week, he doesn’t really do much of anything. Not like that Captain America or the First Avenger, who I’m pretty sure are the same person. You never really see them in the same place at the same time. But they’re both bound to have a movie out this weekend that does blockbuster business. Will Captain America be able to put out the steam driving Harry Potter? We’ll look into that further below. Captain America might not be able to. The First Avenger? That’s another story entirely. Captain Reject Report? Not a chance in hell.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Friends With Benefits director Will Gluck teaches us proper technique in the bedroom, Another Earth star William Mapother confronts what he’d do if he met himself, and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil director Eli Craig packs for Comic-Con with us. We can bring liquids on planes now, right? Listen Here: Download This Episode

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a movie news column that wonders: “does your daddy know that it sneaks into your room every night?” In a slightly less creepy description, it’s a column that, as of tonight, is of two minds: one that thinks about movie news and is seemingly on vacation, and another that is all about television. Like The Adventures of Pete and Pete. No, seriously. Tonight’s top story is an imperfect first look at Colin Farrell in the Len Wiseman directed reboot of Total Recall. Some sites are dedicating primo space to such an image, so I thought I’d throw it up there because it’s a decent sized fish on a day where news has been flowing into our nets plentifully. In other non-fishing references, the Total Recall character looks a lot like plain old Colin Farrell. Nothing to see here, I suppose.

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Like any relationship that includes some sex with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, we’re going to make this easy. We’re co-hosting an advance screening of Friends with Benefits in Austin, TX on the night of Wednesday, July 20 at 7:30p CST. And we’d like to have you come along. We don’t require that you love us, we just want your friendship. We don’t even have to do the casual sex thing, unless you’re really interested. In order to get one of our coveted passes, you’ll need to follow a few simple directions, which I’ve conveniently located just after the jump.

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In the past, I have used this space to examine the cultural implication of sex in cinema, the hotness of naked people, and even exploited some of my own personal going-ons. After last week’s titillating BDSM discussion and the official welcoming of summer, I chose to approach some lighter fare this time around. We all love sex in its many forms (unless for some, I’m sure, reasonable reason you do not), and more importantly we are all fascinated or turned-on by sex on film (for artistic purposes, surely). With summer upon us we have at least a fistful of sexy films whetting our appetite before September 20th. I have done some preliminary dirty work to present to you, fair reader, a double stuffed list of films tailor-made for the erotica lover.

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Jaws didn’t mean to do it, but Summer has become the biggest business in movie-making. This summer, we’re getting a new batch of movies that the studios are hoping to be gigantic, but thankfully for us, they fit into 6 handy categories. Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius have worked tirelessly (except for five or ten naps) in order to break these movies down and present them to you. What will you be watching this summer? What excites you the most? What do you have the highest hopes for? These films all have the potential to bust blocks, but will it be your block they’re busting? Here they are, the six types of films coming out in the following months.

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Didn’t we just do this? More than most Deep Impact/Armageddon-style movie releases, the double dose of emotionless sex comedies has felt eye-rollingly boring. Fortunately, this trailer for Friends With Benefits makes it clear that this particular emotionless sex comedy takes things in a far more mad-cap direction than the Kutcher/Portman pairing. Justin Timblerlake busting some Kriss-Kross, Mila Kunis mocking Katherine Heigl movies, Patricia Clarkson doing some light S&M roleplaying, and Woody Harrelson stealing laughs as a gay man (who presumably can’t jump). It’s all here without even a hint of LOVE getting in the way of SEX. Not in this trailer at least:

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Director Will Gluck had a fairly middling (yet harmless) introduction with the world through Fired Up! but his follow-up, Easy A, has earned him a place as one to watch. With more eyes on him, he’s chosen to make Justin Timberlake perform oral sex on Mila Kunis while singing a Semisonic song. Ivan Reitman, on the other hand, is a veteran. He’s the man who directed every movie you liked in the 80s. He’s hit a snag as a director recently (with My Super Ex-Girlfriend), but he’s on fire as a producer. Friends with Benefits is the Casual Sex Between Friends Armageddon to No Strings Attached‘s Deep Impact. Both movies deal with the same exact plot, both involve incredibly attractive people that in no way would ever realistically be hurting for carnal pleasure, and both come out around relatively the same time. Who will come out on top? Probably Kunis, but you should check out both trailers and weigh in for yourself.

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The high school comedy is not an easy subject to tackle because it’s been tackled almost as much as Emma Stone’s character in Easy A would have you believe she has. It is one of the many sluts of the film genre world – it’s incredibly attractive because it’s easy to get into bed with, but it’s not like you’re going to impress anyone by going after it. Unless you nail it. Will Gluck, a man without an average high school experience teamed with Stone, an actress who didn’t go to high school, to try to do just that. Gluck was decent enough to spend more than a few minutes on the phone with me while surrounded by the insanity of the Toronto International Film Festival to talk about the challenges of being fresh with high school, creating a strong female character, and the joy of sex comedy without sex.

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Despite the lack of Ghostbusters 3 rumors this week, Ivan Reitman is still getting himself into the news quite a bit. It must have something to do with him being hard at work casting his next film, Friends with Benefits.

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The actress will either keep Portman and Kutcher from getting together, or impart some wisdom on the pair as the geeky female best friend.

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One seasoned director. Two stars. One working title. Finally an exploration of the sexual politics between men and women.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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