• Jeff South

10 Movies To Watch With Your Sweetie: Friends With Benefits

Friends With Benefits (2011)

Justin Timberlake: Dylan

Mila Kunis: Jamie

Jenna Elfman: Annie

Richard Jenkins: Mr. Greenberg

Woody Harrelson: Tommy

Patricia Clarkson: Lorna

Screenplay by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman and Will Gluck

Directed by Will Gluck

This past Saturday my wife was sitting on the couch and had just turned on a movie. It was a gray, dreary Saturday. Cold. The kind made for couches. She was under a blanket, so I made a cup of cocoa and joined her. She laughed at something in the movie.

"Whatcha watching?" I scooted in next to her. She didn't know the title, but we recognized Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. The handy dandy onscreen cable guide informed us it was the 2011 rom-com Friends With Benefits and it was part of a Valentine Movie Marathon or something on VH-1 or some other channel that used to be known for one thing, but resembles nothing of that one thing now.

We snuggled on the couch. We laughed. We called all the familiar beats before they happened. Accurately guessed the locale where the romantic climax would occur. Itoasted a brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tart at one point.

The movie is cobbled together from all the tropes we expect, just rearranged slightly. What works is the easy-going chemistry between Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. They play off each other well and, at least on that couch on that Saturday, we were invested. The movie does posit a question that's asked before: can men and women be friends who occasionally have sex on the side without falling in love? An edgier, perhaps more cynical film might have said yes. But, a big budget Hollywood picture with beautiful stars demands they end up together. That brings those of us couch couples comfort. Of course, the argument could be made that the characters in the movies, Jamie and Dylan, actually are best friends.

The commercial interruptions for this particular airing were interminable. Prompting my wife to quip, "What is this? A one-movie marathon?"

I may not remember the specifics of Friends With Benefits. I'll recall it's raunchy sense of humor and effortless charm, and how Woody Harrelson was miscast as the gay best friend. We both thought it was cute and fun. Most all, though, whenever I think about this movie I'll picture cuddling on the couch with my best friend on that Saturday made for couches and smile at how romantic it all was.

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