The reviews for No Strings Attached are…well…I would say not as bad as some of us feared. One big positive is that even the more negative reviews seem to be singling out Natalie as one of the more successful elements of the film.
Here are a new batch of reviews, which mostly dwell in the land of mixed.
Let’s start with quite a positive review from Drew McWeeny over at Hitflix, who admits that he normally gets accused of hating the genre but finds NSA to be “painless” and “occasionally pretty good”.
This is the first time we’ve seen that girl from the Lonely Island rap video in a feature film, the first time she’s brought that same foul-mouthed, cheerfully dirty sense of humor out to play for a film. It makes her doubly adorable, and it feels like in her last few films, we’re starting to really see what the adult Portman is capable of. She lets her Black Swan fly here, and her sense of giddy joy at what she’s doing carries over into the tone of the film itself. She’s having a good time, Kutcher’s having a good time, and even Ivan Reitman, whose work has been genuinely awful for his last several films, seems to be having a good time. As a result, I did, too, and that simple surprise is enough to make me recommend this one.
On the other side of the river bank is Roger Ebert with a disheartening 2 star review.
Natalie Portman is perhaps about to win an Academy Award for “Black Swan.” Why she helped produce this I cannot say. Ambitious actors usually do dreck like this in order to be able to afford to make a movie like “Black Swan.” All the same, she does what she can; she has an edge, aggressive timing, and impressive enthusiasm for sex romping.
James Berardinelli offers up half a star more than Ebert.
For the romantic comedy audience – those who attend movies of this genre out of a genuine love for this sort of thing – No Strings Attached delivers what it promises. Others need not bother, but they probably wouldn’t have, anyway.
The Playlist seemed to have hopes for the script but they feel the final film has been “studio-noted to death” with “emotional complications, frankness and vulgarity” getting jettisoned during the rewriting process.
Any talk of the film being a “Norbit”-style spoiler for Portman’s Oscar chances is misplaced—it certainly isn’t that bad, and the actress is actually quite good in it, funnier and more winning than she’s been allowed to be on screen in a while. If the film has any emotional resonance, and that’s debatable, it’s thanks to her, making the character’s closed-off nature seem entirely plausible.
The NY Observer’s Rex Reed fires both barrels at the film.
The stars have zero charisma. Sexy and petite, Ms. Portman outclasses her co-star in ways you can’t even remember. Clumsy and superficial, Mr. Kutcher is mired in the kind of clueless, adolescent smirking that typified his obnoxious TV “punking.” He can’t act, so when in doubt, he clutches a towel to his johnson and bears his bubble butt to keep the teenage girls shrieking. It’s two hours of “Call me,” “Don’t call me,” “Should I call him?”, “He doesn’t want me to call him.”
Reuters has another mixed negative review, taking particular issue with the Ashton Kutcher character.
So it’s left to Portman and a couple of the supporting actors to juice things up, which they do superficially but sufficiently to forestall total ennui. Portman supplies enough tensile strength to Emma that you really believe she doesn’t want emotional involvement and isn’t just pretending. While the actress (who’s also an executive producer here) doesn’t seem like a natural comedienne, her vibrant personality, not to mention her looks, insures that she’ll pop out of a crowd, even one made up of wisecracking comics and diverse physical types.
This Big Hollywood review seems more of a shoulder shrug than anything.
There’s simply not enough at stake here to keep audiences invested in their relationship with these characters. Ultimately, “No Strings Attached” falls victim to a problem that probably besets too many friends with benefits: if you can’t care about where things go, you have to ask yourself why bother at all?
Thankfully, Screendaily had a lot of fun with the film.
Portman, who is rapturously photographed throughout, gets to showcase her underappreciated comedic timing.
And the The Village Voice also has its thumb firmly in the air.
Very little happens in this film that couldn’t realistically happen in the lives of actual beautiful-but-brainy, non-obnoxiously moneyed and ambitious twentysomethings circa now, and at times, No Strings Attached feels almost shockingly attuned to the particular angst of its time and place.