No Strings Attached doesn't offer much of anything new

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No Strings Attached doesn’t offer much of anything new

Imagine if a celebrated chef like Wolfgang Puck decided to cook at an Applebee’s one night and you just happened to be eating there. It could very well be the best meal you’ve ever had at Applebee’s, but it’s still frickin’ Applebee’s no matter who cooked your dinner because it’s all the same crappy ingredients. That’s about the best analogy that I can make about No Strings Attached as helmed by Ivan Reitman, whose skills may have dipped over the years but who is still the director of Ghostbusters, Dave, Twins, Kindergarten Cop and Stripes.

There are a few chuckles peppered throughout — with the leads getting decent support from Kline, Lake Bell, Mindy Kaling, Greta Gerwig and Jake Johnson — but there are also long, dull stretches and a litany of genre cliches to endure.

Although the aforementioned actors make the most of their screen time, others — such as the unrecognizable and underutilized Cary Elwes and the hit-and-miss Ludacris — are wasted. The story’s big gimmick is simply reversing the usual rom com dynamic by having the urgent link girl be the emotionally distant one and the guy being the romantic. Otherwise, the movie offers precious little that hasn’t been done to death in romantic comedies by now. It’s a formulaic piece of fluff enlivened by star chemistry.

As amiable as Kutcher is here, it’s unsurprisingly the acclaimed Portman who steals the show. It’ll be curious to see if Portman, with Thor and Your Highness looming on the horizon, will befall the “Oscar curse” should she win Best Actress this year. She can afford to get away with one No Strings Attached, but if she makes more films like this in the future then Black Swan’s going to seem like a very fond but distant memory.

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Counterpart Season 2 Episode 7 shouldn’t do anything to make that situation easier, as the more that gets revealed about Ian, the more difficult it is to understand. Just when it seemed he might not be that integral to the proceedings, he becomes a highlight.

Similarly, everything we thought we knew about Mira continues to unravel, as she didn’t treat all of the students with the same disdain as she did Clare. What do we really know about these characters at all?

His backstory has dropped in too many short bursts to keep it straight. It was on Counterpart Season 2 Episode 2 when we saw Ian and a team infiltrating a man’s house only to find he was already dead.

It could have very easily been a casual sex comedy from the 1980s or a Kate Hudson-Dane Cook vehicle, but the chemistry between Portman and Kutcher and the judgment of Reitman are enough to make it passably entertaining in a “watch it if it’s on the plane” sort of way

With the scattershot way his information has been disseminated, I’d need a lot of red string and some tacks to make sense of it.

Was he always involved with Management on the other side even when working on this side as himself, Wesley Pierce? It’s impossible to tell where his loyalties lie, but if Emily Prime trusted him before, it’s not a mistake she’s likely to make again.

There isn’t much left to Echo and no indication anyone will head over there to take care of what remains of the other half of the Peter Quayle situation.

Given what happened with him in the Alpha world, you’d think they’d be all over him in Prime. It feels like time is moving slower on the Prime side than it is with Alpha.

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