Hmmm… you run around life from a young age, always bumping into the same person with whom you have a crush on. Nothing ever happens of course until one day your life gets upended and you just need a release, in the physical sense. What do you do? Are there rules? Keep it secret?
Ivan Reitman (My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Evolution) directs a look into one such relationship and all of its pain and glory. Relative newcomer Elizabeth Meriwether writes a screenplay based on a story by her and Michael Samonek. For good measure we’ll throw in Ashton Kutcher (Valentine’s Day, Personal Effects) with Natalie Portman (Black Swan, The Other Woman) you get a story that takes the moniker of ‘life imitating art’ to a tee by showing life is a romantic comedy, for some of us.
Meet Emma (Portman) and Adam (Kutcher) who have met several times since summer camp, each time ending in a bit of an awkward parting, one time meeting while Adam was with his girlfriend and giving her number to him, one of those awkward partings. Life goes on. When Adam hits a rough patch, dad (Kevin Kline) a well known actor is dating his now ex girlfriend, he just wants to get drunk and…well you know. When he wakes up naked in a house with three others he gets a little nervous but is soon at ease he sees a familiar face, Emma. Feeling at ease that nothing has happened, he was just wasted when he got to her house, things lead to another and the deed is done. They begin a relationship of ‘friends with benefits’. How long will it last before someone begins to fall, in the sense of the heart?
Reitman is known for many of his comedies and does not disappoint in ‘NSA’. It helps that he assembles a great cast with Kutcher, Portman and Kline anchoring the story. Meriwether and Samonek have given to Reitman not only the heart of a love story but a depiction of how life is a comedy. One scene Reitman directs that is the most accurate portrayal I’ve seen is when Emma and Adam do the deed the first time, the heat of passion, tension of being with someone for the first time and of course the clumsiness that can ensue. It personifies how the film is relatable to anyone that is or has been in a relationship.
Kutcher is right in his element with this film. Comedy is his strong suit and he always has a quirky charm about him, especially playing Adam. Adam is the son of a celebrity dad that just wants to make it on his own as a writer in Hollywood. Unfortunately dad’s status seems to find ways to overshadow his accomplishments. Portman is the one that stands out in this film. As Emma she has built an armor around her that makes her become this unfeeling person. Portman carries this feeling throughout her performance drawing upon her many times of playing in dramas. It is refreshing to see her let loose in this vehicle. Kline is classic as always in his part as the actor dad that thrives off his celebrity status. Enticing young woman, like Adam’s ex, to feel young again and missing out on his son’s life.
The ensemble players are as important as they bring out the comedy of life. Emma’s lifelong friend Patrice is played by Greta Gerwig (Greenberg, Hanna Takes the Stairs) who finds interest in one of Adam’s best friends Eli played by Jake Johnson (Get Him to the Greek). Lake Bell (It’s Complicated, Pride and Glory) is Adam’s over the top production manager of the show he works on, Lucy. The ex girlfriend is played by the femme fatal Ophelia Lovibond (126.96.36.199, Mowhere Boy) and Ludacris (Gamer, Max Payne) as Wallace, Adam’s other best friend that is all about the ladies.
I have always been of the mind when I go to review a movie to be open to what is played before me. When I first saw any of the trailers or commercials for this film I honestly thought it would be your typical romantic comedy. I’m happy, no ecstatic, I keep that open mind. This film is organic in its writing and delivery to the screen. It is the best showing of life’s ups and downs in a true light. The comedy comes just of the situations that anyone of us have been in and laughed at. I applaud Meriwether and Samonek for their insight and Reitman bringing a stellar cast together showing life’s entertaining moments.
When I first saw Emma and the way she acts when someone gets close reminded me of someone very close to me. Emma put up a shield to protect herself from her past and all the emotions that go with it. But what is life if we have no emotions? Adam knew those emotions and always acted upon them, living his life to the fullest. When he got the chance to be with Emma, whatever the circumstances were, he jumped at it and lived. It was just a matter of time that fun and games became love and commitment. Adam had to take down the armor piece by piece. It just took Emma to the point of it being almost too late to realize she didn’t have her armor and he was the one holding it. All Adam wanted was to be with her for who she is. He doesn’t want to change her. He doesn’t want to make her do anything. He just wants to live life with her. Always and forever, promise.