The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 107 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Olivia Thirlby, Greta Gerwig, Mindy Kaling
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Music by: John Debney
Written by: Elizabeth Meriwether
Region Code: 1
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 10, 2011
"Friendship has its benefits"
Academy Award Winner Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Ashton Kutcher (What Happens in Vegas...) star in the hilarious hit comedy that takes a modern look at what happens when friends-in-need do the deed. Emma is a busy doctor who sets up a seemingly perfect arrangement when she offers her best friend Adam a relationship with one rule: No Strings Attached. But when a fling becomes a thing, can sex friends stay best friends?
As many of you reading this already know I am a Natalie Portman fan. It would be difficult for me to go into one of her films with low expectations so I kept an open mind with No strings attached. The plot revolves around Emma (Portman) and Adam (Kutcher) who share a common attraction to one another but seemingly want different things in a relationship. Emma is career oriented and sees romantic entanglements as a distraction. Adam is a ladies man but is also a bit of a romantic who isn't opposed to a commitment. After their initial meeting at summer camp when they were teenagers Emma and Adam didn't see one another for a number of years. They met again after chance meetings through mutual friends, beginning when they were in college, and rekindled an acquaintanceship that eventually led to a spontaneous sexual encounter. Afterward they mutually agreed to an arrangement where they would meet for booty calls but avoid any romance. After a series of sexual trysts Adam and Emma find their friendship becoming stronger as they spend more time together. Adam's feelings for Emma become more than physical while she outwardly maintains a desire to keep things as they are. He decides to take a risk by inviting Emma out on a date in the hopes of showing her that a little romance isn't necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately things don't pan out as either expects and they come to find that there is no such thing as a free lunch in the complicated world of relationships between men and women.
If you're familiar with the concept of friends with benefits and the romantic dramedy formula we oft see from Hollywood today then you have a good idea of what to expect from this film. I had no problem with it from a conceptual standpoint but found the script to be uneven. There are too many characters and the supporting subplots that revolve around Adam and Emma's families are poorly developed. The film runs longer than is necessary which hurts the pacing. Other than two key scenes the first ten minutes could have been left out. The story plods along and eventually catches its stride but by then tedium has started to set in. It is quite obvious that the intention was to create an adult romantic comedy but I found some of the adult situations and dialogue to be a little overplayed. Natalie P. just has a way about her. I suspect that she could probably handle any role. I can't say the same for Ashton Kutcher although I wouldn't say that he played this role any better or worse than he typically does. Their romantic chemistry was just so so which didn't make for a credible match. Kevin Kline is always solid and made the most of his limited time onscreen. Olivia Thirlby, Chris Ludacris Bridges, and Cary Elwes were equally underused while SNL's Abby Elliott and The Office's Mindy Kaling uttered more useless lines than the spoken dialogue of the other three combined. In spite of its shortcomings No strings attached isn't a total loss thanks to a combination of Ivan Reitman's capable direction, Natalie Portman's charismatic presence and Ashton Kutcher's typically clumsy but passable performance.
The rating is for sexual content, language and some drug material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
No strings attached comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.9 Mbps.
This is a great looking video presentation that boasts vivid primary colors and excellent depth and dimension. Images are sharp, delineated and revealing of subtle textural detail that enhances the perception of minutia within clothing, physical features and objects onscreen. Blacks are rich with deep highlights that provide plenty of pop during dark sequences that contain mixed content. Detail in shadowy backgrounds and dim lighting in the nighttime exterior sequences is quite good which gives those segments appreciable depth of field. Fidelity never wavers in this beautifully rendered high def presentation from Paramount.
The DTS MA soundtrack is quite good and easily renders the source elements with excellent clarity and punchy dynamics. Dialogue is delivered with crystal clarity and discerning tonal characteristics through the center channel. The surrounds are active at times and used to good effect for sound effects and mild but enveloping ambience. The mix is well balanced and creates an enjoyable surround sound experience that perfectly matches the tone of the film.
- Commentary with director Ivan Reitman
- (HD) Sex friends: Getting together - 20 minute featurette
- (HD) Inside the sassy halls of Secret High - 11 minute featurette
- (HD) Modern love: The Do's and don'ts - 8 minute featurette
- (HD) 4 Deleted/2 Extended scenes
- (HD) 2 Alternate storylines - 3 minutes
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc
- Bonus DVD of No strings attached
No strings attached is a middling romantic comedy that suffers from a slow moving/uneven script and mediocre chemistry between leads Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. Luckily Portman's allure, Ivan Reitman's direction, and Ashton Kutcher's oafish charm keep the proceedings from being a total bore. I have no complaints with its high definition audio/video presentation on Blu-ray Disc from Paramount as it looks terrific and features crystal clear lossless sound quality. The supplemental offering is well worth checking out especially if you enjoyed the film. No strings attached doesn't break new ground but is worth a rental for genre fans.
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