NO STRINGS ATTACHED (Rated R for profanity, ongoing sexual content, drug use, etc.) Even a pro like director Ivan Reitman couldn't possibly pull this insipid, totally artificial script by Elizabeth Meriwether to make it worthwhile sitting through for nearly two hours - especially since it uses Plot #23 (for romantic comedies with mea culpa ending), all spruced up in what's supposed to be the modern way of approaching life, love, sex and friendships
He, Adam (Ashton Kutcher, trying hard to look like a guy who could handle any situation with aplomb - and doing his best to appear much younger than his actual age), meets Emma (Natalie Portman, doing her level best to work some life into a shallow role) connecting like a couple of carefree adolescents who find immediate gratification as "sex-friends" - while it lasts - before they realized it ain't love, yet won't admit that, deep down, they really prefer a loving relationship - until one day.
Oh, brother! All that posturing & playing Doctor for at least the first third of the film, which serves as "sophisticated" (read that as adolescent) approach to rampant sex, as opposed to the Real Thing.
The first third is, at least, fun for juveniles who once used to rush off to dirty movie houses to watch everyone having graphic (sort of) sex without guilt, with the same casual pleasure as munching munchies just because they're there. To make the movie more With It there is included a friend who continually reminds everyone that he's the adopted son of two gay fathers, but "I'm super straight;" a buddy that believes every woman Wants It, and with an over-eager Black buddy sends Adam into his escapades with a sporty, "Go, man! Go straight up!" Oh, and there's a bevy of girls attending med school who assume the best relationship is one quicky after another, purely sexual. (Proudly exclaims one of them, "I'm a slut! We're all sluts!") And - well, there's Adam's father (wonderfully portrayed by Kevin Kline); he's With It - smokes pot with his son, lives with his son's ex-girlfriend, and is pleased to instruct his son's sexual jaunts (as if Adam needed the help at all).
But, aha! Maybe such a flamboyant existence might not be the Good Life. So Emma suspects at her sister's wedding, so Adam suspects at his father's near-death bedside, and so, in a sudden moment, they clinch, but this time, it's Real Love. "I love you," she repeats after him, almost as if she were reading the line from a script. They hold hands. Fade out & - fuggetit.
After the first third nothing, not Reitman's talented hand nor Meriwether's faux clever dialog (after being told off bluntly, long pause, then, the f-word) ("You have a really nice penis.") can make the last two-thirds seem anything more than a weak caricature of a dirty movie for eager schoolboys, and it loses all impact even at that level. It winds up a well produced, very tiresome wink wink, nudge nudge sex flick that eventually sinks itself into laughingly ridiculous, mechanical moments, then utter boredom.
OK, for a while the sometimes familiar sights around Detroit (especially the posh Grosse Pointe mansions and glossy restaurants) offer a bit of background interest for Michiganders, but the hop to - where? Hollywood? Oh, sure, in between sex bouts, Adam's amateur hand dashes off a script for Paramount Studios, surprisingly turning - wow - almost magic-like - into a praiseworthy musical.
Oh, one other lesson learned: before, during, and in-between the sheets, food becomes a fulfilling aphrodisiac, but I'm not sure if that's true or if the makers of the film just didn't know what else to add as a secondary pleasure: When sex doesn't work, nibble on food. (Grade: D)