Perhaps you've noticed the slough of fuck buddy rom-coms released in the last year or so. It started with 2010's Love and Other Drugs, a movie that (trust me) is more than the story of two consenting adults engaging in casual sex. (Golden Globe nominations prove it). The typically mundane No Strings Attached rolled along in January and is, in fact, everything you'd expect. And a mere week ago, we got...
Friends With Benefits (2011)
They say two is a coincidence, but three is a pattern. So here we have the story of emotionally damaged Jamie (Mila Kunis), a head hunter for a job agency in New York City and emotionally unavailable Dylan (Justin Timberlake), an art director for an L.A. internet company. Jamie successfully recruits Dylan to New York and the two become friends, and as the title suggest, some benefits are eventually thrown in. As with all rom-coms, the parents are introduced. Jamie's mom is Lorna (Patricia Clarkson), slutty but fun, and Dylan's dad (Richard Jenkins) is nice, but suffers from Alzheimer's. Jamie and Dylan have fun in their emotionally ambiguous affair until the stirrings of love complicate matters.
I knew this movie wasn't going to be "as good" as Love and Other Drugs, but I had hoped that it would be superior to the tedious No Strings Attached. I was hoping this one would be just different enough. I love meta-fiction and the trailers and ads showed Jamie and Dylan promising their situation would be "nothing like the movies". This peaked my interest. Perhaps there would be a twist ending. Maybe, just maybe, Jamie and Dylan would end up more learned people, stay friends and find happiness with other parties.
But no. How dare I be that creative? We all know how these movies end: Boy and Girl realize that all the sex they've been having isn't just for the sake of getting off. No, no, it's representation of their latent deeper feelings. Silly kids, sex is for people in love! Didn't you know that?
Friends With Benefits criticizes common rom-com tropes, but is too pussy to deviate from the formula. For example, Jamie is characterized as a hopeless romantic. She quotes along to her shitty movies and repeatedly states her desire, nay need for Prince Charming. Literally, Prince Charming. Dylan is aware of this quirk but is still dumb enough to enter a FWB situation with her. So after Jamie finally realizes her love for Dylan, things start to unravel. And to make up for his assholish behavior, he stages a Goddamn dance sequence at Grand Central Station.
I hate movies.*
Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves. Once upon a time it was nerdy girls yearning for their Cinderella moment; one little makeover and the Prom King would be their's! But with this advent of "first-comes-sex, then-comes-love" rom-coms, I wouldn't be surprised if more and more women entered these situations all to discover that Hollywood is more full of shit than they originally believed. I feel the need to say that I'm not against fuckbuddies in theory or practice. But I assure you, it takes a certain kind of person to do it and Jamie is the exact opposite of that person. Because if this were real life, Justin would have a Fatal Attraction on his hands.
*All right, just this movie.