“Friends With Benefits” is a film about two friends (Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis) who decide to get it on without complications. It is a romantic comedy about how the leads fall in love but fight it.
In many places, its prosecution is not subtle – actors Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake directly assail the unreachable fairytales of the big screen, even scoffing at a cheesy fake romcom ‘starring’ Jason Segel and Rashida Jones. But the film doesn’t shoot for gentle, and the message, it goes without saying, is loud and clear.
At the film’s New York premiere on Monday co-writer Keith Merryman said: “Part of what we wanted to do, we felt like romantic comedies, hadn’t caught up, weren’t reflecting our straight single girlfriends.” Keith Merryman and the film’s other original writer David A. Newman set out to create a dynamic that sought out happy endings over emotional, and designed characters so psychologically damaged that they didn’t fear physical connection, but instead the intimate connection that is so often attached.
David A. Newman said:”We wanted to write an R-rated anti-romantic comedy. Sort of like the death of romance in the age of hookups and that became our driving principle. Instead of having them kiss and cut to the next morning, we get the comedy there.”
Keith Merryman singled out his excitement at having Timberlake and Kunis bring his story to life. Keith cocluded that the pair “embody their generation” of late night text messages and commitment-free sex, and lent a bit of reality and grounding to their anti-cliche, sex-only manifesto.
He spoke of Justin Timberlake: “What we love about Justin is that he’s this huge icon, he’s this huge superstar. But he’ll take the piss out of himself, he’s self-deprecating. There’s certain people at that level who would never be funny about themselves.”
And Newman said about Justin: “He’s this huge international superstar but there’s something about hm that feels like every guy. Guys love him and want to be his friend, girls want to be with him.” Gorgeous Kunis embodies a new generation of women stars, as she features in a beloved raunchy cartoon in “Family Guy” and boasts of her massive geek chicness, including an abiding love of Star Trek.
After the director Will Gluck signed onto the film, he went right after casting duo, and then, went about making sure the two got to revamp it with their own representative visions. He said: “Once they stupidly said yes, we agreed to redo it in their own voices. So we developed it and workshopped it all together, us three, so by the time we were shooting, it was in their voices.”
As Gluck said, when you’re working with two of the most beautiful people in the world, it’s silly to ignore the obvious, which actually lends itself to the updated issue at hand. Gluck admitted: “In this movie, the two characters, Justin and Mila, have no trouble getting a date.”
“It’s not one of those movies where you have, ‘Oh my god, how is Justin going to get a date? Wah!’ So, when you have those type of characters, to me it really frees you up to say, who do you really like in life?… Just cause you’re pretty doesn’t mean your life is awesome.”
Unlike the classic romantic woman in distress character or 90s-perfected “funny because she’s fumbling” leading lady, Kunis offers her own smart brand of comedy to the film, making her part of a larger movement this summer to prove that women, indeed, can be funny on their own merits.
Gluck said: “Women are so much more funny and complicated and much smarter than dudes, that as a writer and a director, I want to see a woman be funny, because to me, it comes from a different place.”
Gluck said that they’re trying to capture a new reality of relationships, not reject the entire premise of true love. “We wanted to make a real movie about real people, and that allows us to talk real frankly about sex. A big chunk of this movie is that you’re having sex with your friend and you don’t have to worry about what you say, so a pandora’s box is open.”
Overall, Friends With Benefits is a good kick in the pants to romantic comedies while still allowing itself to (somewhat ironically) play into the cliches we know and love. [via Huffington Post, Movieviral, The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter]