Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Friends With Benefits Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Dylan (Justin Timberlake) is done with relationships.  Jamie (Mila Kunis) decides to stop buying into the Hollywood clich├ęs of true love.  When the two become friends they decide to try something new and take advantage of their mutual attraction – but without any emotional attachment. Physical pleasure without the entanglements.  Sounds easy enough for two logical adults, right?  Not so much.  They soon realize romantic comedy stereotypes might exist for a reason.  Directed by Will Gluck (Easy A), and starring Justin Timberlake (The Social Network) and Mila Kunis (Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actress, Drama, Black Swan, 2010) Friends With Benefitsalso boasts hilarious performances by Woody Harrelson (Zombieland), Emma Stone (Easy A), and Andy Samberg (“Saturday Night Live”). 

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

Jamie (Mila Kunis) is a headhunter with her sights on recruiting Dylan (Justin Timberlake).  Jamie decides that she isn’t going to focus on luring Dylan away from his small internet firm in Los Angeles, or even selling him on the wonders of the new job at GQ.  Instead, she will sell him on New York.  Her plan involves taking him to all her favorite New York places.  In the middle of Dylan’s first flash mob (in Times Square) he agrees to take the job.
In addition to a new job, Dylan finds himself a good friend in Jamie.  One night, while hanging out at Jamie’s apartment watching movies and drinking beer they begin talking about sex.  They wonder why sex has to be complicated with emotions and they agree it should simply be an activity like playing tennis…and they become friends with benefits. The new physical relationship works well for a while, and is a lot of fun.  Eventually Jamie decides she wants to start dating and it’s time for the friends with benefits part of the relationship with Dylan to stop before their friendship suffers.
Jamie meets a guy who seems to be perfect, a pediatric oncologist who says and does all the right things.  He is even willing to wait five dates to get physical but once they do sleep together Jamie catches him sneaking out and realizes he’s another jerk who was just better at hiding his true nature than most.  She’s also just been let down by her flakey mother, and it’s the 4th of July weekend so Dylan invites her to spend the weekend in L.A. with his family.  In L.A., Jamie meets Dylan’s nephew, sister (Jenna Elfman) and father dealing with Alzheimer’s that comes and goes, learning that Dylan has never brought a girl home before.  Jamie has a great weekend but overhears Dylan tell his sister that Jamie means nothing to him and leaves prematurely.
In typical romantic comedy fashion, Dylan thinks that he doesn’t care about Jamie and he ignores his feelings for her for a while.  Later, his father visits New York and tells him that his biggest regret is the woman he let go because he was too stupid to make it happen.  Determined not to make the same mistake, Dylan decides to go track down Jamie and try to convince her that what they share is real love and not just friends with benefits.
As far as “chick flicks” go, Friends with Benefits is a pretty good one.  It follows the standard formulas and isn’t all that unique but I enjoyed it just the same.  It definitely has something for everyone to enjoy.  For the ladies…it has lots of naked Justin Timberlake and for the men…naked Mila Kunis.  Woody Harrelson is quite a scene stealer as Dylan’s gay co-worker.  I’m not sure what it was about Mila Kunis that bothered me when she was on “That 70s Show”, but she didn’t seem to bother me in this movie.  She was a lot more likable than I remember and she and Timberlake make a good, believable pair.

Video (4 out of 5 stars) 

Friends with Benefits is presented on Blu ray in 1080p high definition 2.40:1, with special features also in high definition.  Colors look fantastic and flesh tones are even and accurate and there is an abundance of skin!  The black levels are deep and the movie looked great in the dead of night in New York City, or on the bright beach of Los Angeles.

Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

Friends with Benefits is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD.  The dialogue is clear and consistent.  This is an above average mix that is fitting for a romantic comedy.  While there are no major explosions or gun fire or such things that would typically rock your sound system, there are major crowds and you can feel as though you’re in the middle of Times Square if you listen closely.

Special Features (4 out of 5 stars) 

While the features aren’t that extensive, I did enjoy the commentary (I usually don’t) and I’m very happy to see outtakes.
  • Deleted Scenes – A few deleted scenes worth watching.  I can see why they were cut, but they add supplemental information to the film.
  • On the set with FWB – A featurette about making Friends with Benefits.  The actors clearly had a good time making the movie and the roles were chosen well.
  • In a Flash: Choreographing a Mob – A featurette discussing the significant amount of work and the large number of dancers needed to make the flash mobs happen.
  • Bonus Benefits: A Pop Up Trivia Track – This is my least favorite feature.  Most of the trivia was pretty pointless and distracting.
  • Commentary - With Writer/Director Will Gluck, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis – This turned out to be one of my favorite commentaries.  The actors and the director crack jokes, and laugh at each other while discussing the film.  Nothing they had to say was particularly interesting but it was fun to listen to and you can tell that they enjoy each other’s company.

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)  

When I requested Friends with Benefits I thought I would watch it once and then possible re-gift it.  I enjoyed it enough to keep it.  Justin Timberlake, I’m a little ashamed to say, is growing on me.  I think he’s turning out to be a decent actor, and I don’t think I’m saying that now that I’ve seen his butt.  I’m one of those people that sometimes knows who actors are but never knows Directors and I’m about to go Google Director Will Gluck because I think he did a decent job with this one and I wonder what other projects he is responsible for.
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