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No Strings Attached(2011)
A guy and girl try to keep their relationship strictly physical, but it's not long before they learn that they want something more.
For more about No Strings Attached and the No Strings Attached Blu-ray release, see No Strings Attached Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 19, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Greta Gerwig, Cary Elwes, Lake Bell
Director: Ivan Reitman
» See full cast & crew
No Strings Attached Blu-ray Review
First comes...love? Marriage? Sex? Does it matter? Apparently not.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 19, 2011
We don't pick who we fall in love with.
No Strings Attached is a Romantic Comedy that tries to take the "Romantic" out of the equation. Otherwise, it's the same old assembly line-style genre picture that's been made countless times before, playing with no spirit, no direction, and little originality. For a movie about casual sex, there's surprisingly little of it on-screen, but so long as everything is implied and spelled out, so what if the visuals are tired and decidedly un-titillating? For a movie that's made on a premise of doing things backwards, it's incredibly sterile and unwilling to get its hands dirty, refusing to break convention even if it just plays the regular old RomCom story in reverse, starting with the sex and moving on to the awkward, fumbling dates and, who knows (the keen viewer!), maybe even arrive at the "L" word by the end. And then there's the humor, such a subjective thing, humor about sex even more so, but chances are No Strings Attached will strike out with a dull thud with most viewers. There's just nothing new here, despite the backwards approach to the formula; the physical and verbal humor is taken from the standard genre playbook and the characters and their relationships are barely distinguishable from most other movies of this sort. Some will love the comfort of it all, but the brazen repetitiveness of it will probably tire many out on the genre for years to come.
Fifteen years ago, when Color Me Badd was still a favorite group, teenagers Adam and Emma met up during camp and, while Adam's request for a sexual favor was turned down, the two seemed to spark some kind of flame. Years later, they bumped into one another again, exchanged pleasantries and phone numbers, and went their own ways. Fast forward to today. Adam (Ashton Kutcher, What Happens in Vegas) has lost his girlfriend to his father of all people, and he concocts an idea to call every girl in his phone's contact list until one agrees to sleep with him as kind of a therapeutic lovemaking session meant to release the tension and anger building up inside of him. His pleading falls on dead ears, until he drunkenly dials up Emma (Natalie Portman, Leon: The Professional) and wakes up the next morning naked, on her couch, in front of her three roommates. One thing (a compliment on his manhood) leads to another (sex), and before they can say "love," Adam and Emma are rolling in the hay and having the time of their lives. Adam seems a little more eager to take the relationship to the next level, but Emma is more than happy to leave things on a strictly physical level. They make a pact to keep it that way, seeing one another on a whim and having sex as often as they want, but agree to split up should one develop feelings for another. Can a relationship based completely on sex last, or will the physical lead to something a bit more long-term emotionally satisfying than no-strings free love?
There's nothing here that the imagination couldn't cobble together several reels before it happens. No Strings Attached plays it safe and goes right where it should, hugging the periphery rather than outright exploring the consequences of sex without the benefit of emotional attachment, but ultimately the picture never really goes anywhere except towards the inevitable conclusion, focused like a laser on everything but that which really should matter in a movie like this. The film's transparency isn't necessarily a weakness -- there's a certain comfort in entertainment as meaningless and predictable as this -- but what is a fault is an almost perceptible fear of taking the movie down an unexpected path that would challenge it to offer more than genre-standard humor, cookie-cutter characters, and phony emotions. Where's the greater examination of the place of sex in a relationship? Just because the plot takes the characters from C-to-B-to-A doesn't really get to the heart of the matter. Is it possible that feelings really can come from a relationship based purely on the physical, aside, of course, from whether or not the script calls for it? Merely making something happen doesn't necessarily mean it can or it should. Anything's possible with the stroke of a pen; real feelings are far more complex than convenient words written on paper. There's no meaning behind the developments; they just sort of happen, yes within the context of the plot but without any meaning or purpose behind them, aside from steamrolling towards a happily-ever-after conclusion. Maybe it's asking too much of a movie like this, but it would be nice to see a genre picture try to spread its wings and go for broke rather than play it safe in the cozy confines of unimaginative, conventional modern cinema.
Otherwise, No Strings Attached is a well-made picture helmed by the venerable Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) who still manages to charm even when the movie fails to elicit much of a thematic undercurrent. Amicable, easy on the eyes, and crafted with attention to detail that allows the movie to flow nicely and effortlessly enough, No Strings Attached represents a baseline for which other like-minded films would be smart to follow in terms of its raw technical assemblage and know-how. Better, Ashton Kutcher is excellent in his role, playing the same sort of character he usually portrays in Romantic Comedies, delivering a somewhat dry, a little shy, but confident, smart, and funny performance that gives the character a relatable and natural feel that was evident in Valentine's Day, Spread, and now in No Strings Attached. Opposite of him is Portman, who is dwarfed by the extra-tall Kutcher but who holds her own, anyway, pulling off a believable girl in need of a no-strings relationship but not really pulling off the whole doctor-in-waiting part, which doesn't really matter much to the plot aside from allowing a side character to utter something-or-another about seeing male genitalia everyday, of course during a critical moment when Kutcher finds himself as naked as the day he was born, only his privates covered by a skimpy little towel. There's not an excess of chemistry here, which may be a byproduct of the soulless script rather than the quality of the performances and the pairing of the actors, but at the end of the day neither Kutcher not Portman are much to blame for what are limitations outside of their control holding back No Strings Attached from excelling beyond expected genre norms.
No Strings Attached Blu-ray, Video Quality
No Strings Attached arrives on Blu-ray with a handsome, often striking, 1080p transfer. This is a wonderfully filmic image, sporting a fine layer of natural grain that accentuates every single detail throughout the film. The image is remarkably sharp and infinitely clear, appearing stable and well-detailed even way back into the farthest reaches of the frame. Colors are wonderfully vibrant, popping off the screen with regularity, favoring a warm shade for sure but still well within an acceptable limit, particularly considering that a warm push is the new norm for this sort of movie. Black levels are fantastic, yielding strong shadow detail and never appearing even the least bit gray or washed out. The print is meticulously clean -- not a single speckle, scratch, hair, or other ramdom anomaly is visible -- and the transfer is free of any distracting blocking, banding, noise reduction, or edge enhancement. A few scenes do go slightly soft, but this is otherwise a nearly perfect transfer in every regard.
No Strings Attached Blu-ray, Audio Quality
No Strings Attached features a plain Jane DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack, but while the sound design is nothing to write home about, Paramount's Blu-ray audio presentation handles the limited material with great proficiency. This is a dialogue-heavy picture, and the speech delivery is handled by the center speaker with nary a glitch. Music delivery is effortlessly smooth and energetic, whether instrumental score or various Pop and Rock tunes; Color Me Badd never sounded so good. The track also features a positive, heavy low end that's not going to rattle the foundation but that sends a strong rumble through the listening area, usually in conjunction with popular music, with regularity. The surrounds don't get much work; atmospherics, and light atmospherics at that, are generally carried by the front. There's not much going on here, but this lossless presentation handles everything asked of it with absolute clarity; one can't ask for much more than that.
No Strings Attached Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No Strings Attached features a standrad array of extras, including an audio commentary and a few featurettes.
No Strings Attached Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
No Strings Attached isn't really a bad movie. It's formula, yes, and it's tiresome, yes, but it is not without some technical merit, a bit of wit, and a couple of decent-to-good performances. That said, it's so redundant -- even considering its backwards approach to love -- that it can't escape the innate limitations of the Romantic Comedy, the picture failing to find any social or emotional resonance and instead just playing out as a string of D.O.A. jokes and awkward situations that audiences have seen time and again in countless other movies, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but always with the same general feel. That said, some viewers may like it for just that reason; No Strings Attached is comfortable, predictable, and mindless. Movies need not always take a stab at solving problems or unearthing some deeper meaning in the plot; it would just be nice if one of these Romantic Comedies would one day look for a silver lining rather than simply frolicking around and trying to blend in with the crowd. Paramount's Blu-ray release of No Strings Attached features a sensational 1080p transfer, a genre-average lossless soundtrack, and a handful of extras. Recommended as a rental, but fans can buy knowing they're getting a quality product for their money.
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• This Week on Blu-ray - May 10-16 - May 10, 2011
The formula for the classic romantic comedy consists of a few scenes that tell a heart felt story of love lost and then won again, intercut with hilarious circumstances that heighten the overall romance. For today's Blu-ray release of No Strings Attached that producers ...
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