Friends with Benefits (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
November 26, 2011 by Dennis Amith
“Friends with Benefits” is a charming, sexy and fun romantic comedy featuring a wonderful performance by Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis and a romantic comedy capturing both the beauty of love in New York City and Los Angeles by keeping things real!
© 2011 Screen Gems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Friends with Benefits
FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 109 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (Widescreen 2:40:1), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish, English-Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean
COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment
RATED: R (For Sexual Content and Language)
Release Date: December 2, 2011
Directed by Will Gluck
Screenplay by Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck
Story by Harley Peyton, Keith Merryman, David A. Newman
Produced by Janet Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Liz Glotzer, Will Gluck, Martin Shafer
Co-Producer: Alicia Emmrich, Nicolas Stern
Executive Producer: Glenn S. Gainor
Cinematography by Michael Grady
Edited by Tia Nolan
Casting by Lisa Miller Katz
Production Design by Marcia Hinds
Art Direction by Bo Johnson
Set Decoration by Cindy Coburn, Alyssa Winter
Costume Design by Renee Ehrlich Kalfus
Justin Timberlake as Dylan
Mila Kunis as Jamie
Patricia Clarkson as Lorna
Jenna Elfman as Annie
Bryan Greenberg as Parker
Richard Jenkins as Mr. Harper
Woody Harrelson as Tommy
Nolan Gould as Sam
Andy Samberg as Quincy
Shaun White as himself
Masi Oka as Darin Arturo Morena
Emma Stone as Kayla
Dylan (Justin Timberlake) is done with relationships. Jamie (Mila Kunis) decides to stop buying into the Hollywood clichés 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.
Filmmaker Will Gluck (“Easy A”, “The Loop”) is back with a romantic comedy titled “Friends With Benefits”.
Featuring a story by Harley Peyton, Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, the film would feature an all-star ensemble cast starring Mila Kunis (“Black Swan”, “That ’70s Show”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), Justin Timberlake (“In Time”, “Bad Teacher”, “The Social Network”), Bryan Greenberg (“Bride Wars”, “The Perfect Score”), Jenna Elfman (“Dharma & Greg”, “Keeping the Faith”, “Edtv”), Woody Harrelson (“Cheers”, “Zombieland”, “Natural Born Killers”), Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”, “Step Brothers”, “Burn After Reading”) and Patricia Clarkson (“The Green Mile”, “Shutter Island”).
The film was well-received by film critics and the $35 million film would go on to make $149 million in the box office.
“Friends with Benefits” begins with Dylan (played by Justin Timberlake) meeting with his girlfriend Kayla (played by Emma Stone) in Los Angeles and Jamie (played by Mila Kunis) meeting her boyfriend Quincy (played by Andy Samberg) in New York.
The night takes a bad turn for both Dylan and Jamie as they are dumped.
And now it’s a new beginning. Jamie, an Executive Recruiter of a job agency in New York City has been trying to land Dylan, an art director for an Internet company with GQ Magazine. So, she recruits Dylan and tries to win him over with making the move from Los Angeles to New York City.
At first, Dylan is not too sure if he wants to move but when Jamie shows him around and he sees a flash mob of people dancing right before his eyes, he is sold and takes the job at GQ.
At GQ, he meets gay sports writer Tommy (played by Woody Harrelson), who keeps asking Dylan if he’s gay (expecting him to be gay because he is an art director) and as for Jamie, when she goes to meet with Dylan and have him sign a contract (that he is committed of staying at GQ for a minimum of one year and to also ensure she gets her commission for recruiting him), he asks her out for lunch, not a date but as friends.
And as the two develop a friendship and hang out with each other, after watching a love story on television, the two start discussing about sex and relationships and how their last relationships have ended badly. Out of the blue, Dylan and Jamie start talking about what if they have sex together but no emotional attachment… Friends with benefits.
And immediately both begin to have fun having wild sex with each other.
But over time, the two discuss about what if they start dating again. And as she watches Dylan hit on a beautiful woman (who happens to be married), he watches as Jamie hits on a guy named Parker (played by Bryan Greenberg) and they both hit off and have a date.
While Dylan hooks up with a wild woman (that is a bit too wild for his taste), her dates go well with Dylan but she tells him she doesn’t have sex until she goes on five dates with the guy. And sure enough, she spends more time with Parker and Dylan is left often thinks about her. When she goes on her fifth date with Parker, the two have sex but the following morning, he tells her that he wasn’t looking for a relationship and Jamie is upset and feels used.
While Jamie tries to talk about her love life with her mother Lorna (played by Patricia Clarkson), Dylan feels bad about what happened to Jamie and invites her to come with him to California, so she can meet his father (played by Richard Jenkins), his sister Annie (played by Jenna Elfman) and her son. But also to see how his father is doing as he is slowly losing his memories because of Alzheimer’s Disease.
As the two spend time in Los Angeles, both start to realize that they have an emotional connection…but will either admit it or will they still want to be friends with benefits without the emotional attachment?
“Friends with Benefits” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1). The picture quality of the film is very good. Shot digitally, it is obvious that the goal of cinematographer Michael Grady (“Easy A”, “Notorious”, “Faster”) was to capture the beauty of New York City and Los Angeles. These scenes are absolutely beautiful and really capture the life of the city through the details of the city and the vibrant colors.
Skin tones are natural, black levels are deep and I detected no banding, artifacts or any problems. “Friends with Benefits” looks fantastic in HD!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Friends with Benefits” is presented in English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is primarily dialogue and musically driven as one would expect from a romantic comedy. There are moments such as the airport scene giving more ambiance to the film but for a romantic comedy, this film sports crystal clear dialogue and bass thumping music ala Kriss Kross’ “Jump” and Foster the Parents “Pumped Up Kids”.
But for the most part, the lossless soundtrack works for this romantic comedy and the dialogue and music are crystal clear!
“Friends with Benefits” comes with the following special features:
- Commentary with Writer/Director Will Gluck, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis – A fun and hilarious audio commentary with the two main stars and director Will Gluck. Both have fun telling jokes, cussing and just having fun discussing the film.
- Bonus Benefits: A Pop-Up Trivia Track – A Blu-ray exclusive. While watching the film, you can have various trivia showing onscreen while watching the film.
- Deleted Scenes – (8:49) Featuring ten deleted scenes (Superheroes on Hollywood Blvd, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Creative Meeting, GQ Party, Let’s Stay Friends, Shower Cap, Hollywood Tour, Princess and the Pony, Dylan Tries to Call Jamie, and Twin Pythons) with optional writer and director commentary.
- Outtakes – (6:40) Featuring outtakes from “Friends with Benefits”.
- On Set With FWB – (5:39) A Blu-ray exclusive featurette featuring an interview with the cast and crew about working on the set of “Friends with Benefits”, shooting in New York City and Los Angeles.
- In A Flash: Choreographing A Mob – (5:48) A Blu-ray exclusive featurette on how the flash mob scenes were created.
When it comes to romantic comedies, especially sex comedies…sometimes the storyline features bad breakups, rebound relationships but for the most part, comedies that you can sense how things will end right from the beginning.
And while the ending for this film fit the banality of other romantic comedies, its how the two protagonists get to that final point. And for a film title such as “Friends with Benefits”, you expect a film to showcase quite a bit of sex. For the most part, you get a lot of good scenes with both Timberlake and Kunis in bed (note: Justin Timberlake does do his first rear nude scene while Kunis used a body double) and experimenting with each other and having fun! But fortunately, this is not the dominating factor of the film.
The film focuses on their emotional attachment to each other, knowing that they have feelings for each other but they are so scared about how their relationships have ended in the past, that being “friends with benefits” would alleviate them from having any emotional attachment. And instead of rushing into those emotions that the two have with each other, we see the journey as the two try to have flings with other people and then of course, when Jamie (Kunis) goes to Los Angeles to meet with his family, things happen that separates the two.
And the chemistry between both Timberlake and Kunis was very well done! In fact, I found the two much more believable onscreen than Timberlake had with Cameron Diaz on “Bad Teacher”. The two looked right for each other and I was quite pleased to see how Timberlake has evolved as an actor and the same for actress Mila Kunis. Both did a wonderful job!
And the supporting cast were also just as good, especially Patricia Clarkson as Lorna, the mother of Jamie but also a woman who has had a problematic sexual past. Woody Harrelson as the gay co-worker named Tommy who is constantly asking Dylan if he is really gay, Richard Jenkins as Dylan’s father who has alzheimer’s and has a habit of pulling down his trousers and Jenna Elfman as Dylan’s sister Annie. Even the short appearances by Jason Segel and Rashida Jones (who star on a cheesy Hollywood romance story), as well as Andy Samberg and Emma Stone were fun to watch!
But one thing I love about romantic films is when they can capture the city the characters talk so much about. If you talk about New York City, I want to see New York City as much as they can show on the film. The same with Los Angeles and the film manages to showcase both cities quite well. I also liked how the film’s storyline took a jab at the usual Hollywood romantic comedy and showing that although Hollywood romantic comedies tend to have the fairytale story, not all are realistic and “Friends with Benefits” is a film that tries to keep things real! I dig that!
As for the Blu-ray release, there are two available on release date. One with a DVD and Ultraviolet copy and the regular Blu-ray release with no DVD and UV copy. The special features were entertaining especially the audio commentary which was hilarious as well as the included outtakes. Also, it was interesting to learn about the challenges of shooting in NYC and Los Angeles and also choreographing the flash mob scenes. The picture quality was vibrant and the on-location scenery shots of NYC and LA were awesome and audio quality was appropriate for this film.
Overall, “Friends with Benefits” is a charming, sexy and fun romantic comedy featuring a wonderful performance by Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis and a romantic comedy capturing both the beauty of love in New York City and Los Angeles by keeping things real!
“Friends with Benefits” is recommended!
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