When I was back there in Catholic school – in the years before the X rating existed – the nuns would cut out the movie listing of “censored” films from a newspaper called The Pilot (which still exists today). Many of these motion pictures that back in 1966 were considered “filth” are now cherished works of art aired on broadcast television. “No Strings Attached” is not a work of art, but it somehow got an R rating when its racy audio is the most X rated soundtrack this critic has heard in his entire life. Heck, even my porno collection (a critic must be well-rounded you know) doesn’t have the vile, vulgar, disgusting use of sexual terms and flying F words that proliferate across and over the celluloid. And if the reaction of the packed house is any indication, this raunchy “chick flick” is going to appeal to the prurient interests of the teens and twenty-somethings who will indulge in this the way that the Porky’s and American Pie sagas satisfied their respective decades.
Do not allow your young daughters to see this film!
I’m serious. No Strings Attached seems intent on taking as much virginity from the landscape as any film could hope to, and that is not a good thing. Director Ivan Reitman has pushed the envelope beyond a reasonable laugh here or there, and though this “adult” film is funny and does work at times, in a very seedy way, the undercurrent of the more beautiful person getting sex while the other human beings circling around the main characters aren’t worth a damn is so stereotypical that women’s rights groups, gay rights groups and anyone who doesn’t get it – that Ashton Kutcher isn’t going to hook up with anyone who doesn’t look like Natalie Portman…or Ben Lawson…is in fantasyland.
And that’s what this film is, a depraved sexual fantasyland (that line ought to sell a few thousand tickets right there), pornography that phone sex specialists could study to get it right. Natalie Portman was allegedly advised not to do a “chick flick” right after what some are calling a probably Academy Award-winning performance in Black Swan. “Chick flick”? How about, Ms. Portman (who is excellent by the way) not indulging in a crude sex film right after her lesbian scenes in Black Swan. AfterEllen.com quotes Portman from Entertainment Weekly saying “‘How do you get guys to a ballet movie? How do you get girls to a thriller? The answer is a lesbian scene. Everyone wants to see that.” Wow. And there is a lesbian scene in No Strings Attached, and a stereoptical gay guy so flaming and unattractive that he makes Harvey Fierstein’s character from Independence Day seem downright macho. Which brings up another double standard that this movie re-emphasizes in a shameful way. The U.K.’s Mail Online quoted Rupert Everett’s BBC interview where he stated ” ‘The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business.’ It just doesn’t work and you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point. You’re going to manage to make it roll for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure, they’ll cut you right off.”
So instead of a Rupert Everett as a sophisticated doctor there’s a heavy-set nellie queen living with the women, which includes Portman, and the heavy-handed Hollywood standard for impressionable young people appears to come more from the Conservative Christians than from what is supposed to be a liberal arena, Hollywood California. So the crowd against gay marriage (not that I’m for it, I feel that marriage as an institution doesn’t help heterosexuals or homosexuals, it has become a red herring, not a lifestyle choice!) has a wonderful tool in this out and out sex romp, something which makes the old naughty 1969 epic, Bob & Ted & Carol & Alice, look like, ho hum, just another mid-season television replacement show that director Paul Mazursky put on the big screen instead. Ashton Kutcher is spread eagle at the beginning of the movie, in the buff, and his backside walking away naked as if posing for a scene in Deep Throat. It’s that in your face…literally. His acting is not bad, though his off-screen escapades with Demi Moore and Twitter are a detriment, not matter how much into the role he is. Ben Lawson is under-utilized and Kevin Kline is simply amazing as Alvin Franklin, Ashton Kutcher’s movie-dad who runs off with his voluptuous and empty-headed ex-girlfriend. Which is why Kutcher’s character, Adam Franklin is so obsessed with having sex. He can’t believe his own Gisele Bündchen would dump him for daddy. Kline doesn’t even look like himself, and is certainly not the character from In & Out or A Fish Called Wanda or certainly his presidential self in the movie Dave. Here he’s no-holds barred and gritty with his catchline “Great Scott”, an exclamation straight out of the mouth of The Daily Planet’s Perry White from Superman
Is the movie good? Yes. Does it entertain? Yes. Is it geared towards the youth that desires a shameful interest in nudity, sex and dirty talk? Absolutely. It’s going to be a smash …and for the wrong reasons. Even my late fiance’ knew how to be tasteful and mysterious about such things, though one reporter in Canada said that she rattled off her conquests of Jim Morrison and other rock stars like she was reading a laundry list. Hey, she was a rock wife and traveled in the higher circles. She knew how to have fun and make it classy. And that’s what’s missing from No Strings Attached – class. A touch of it could have made it a classic, especially following the Black Swan.