No Strings Attached

Adam (Ashton Kutcher) drives a beautifully maintained royal blue BMW Youngtimer. So he is a cool, easy-going guy who has a golden heart and doesn’t bother about his accelerating the end of our precious Earth by puffing toxic gases into the atmosphere.

Emma (Natalie Portman) drives a grey, brand new Audi 3. The products of the brand producer suit the cold and technocratic milieu of the big city, and their emotionless precision is submitted to practicality. Though the possibility of enjoyable cruising is hidden somewhere in the brand just waiting to be released by some intuition. The charming lady, by the way, is a doctor who is afraid of all emotional commitment.



Emma’s colleague drives a Toyota Prius, which, being the first hybrid-power serial model, has become very popular among wealthy Americans since it reflects responsible thinking. It shows that its owner has turned his back on the petrol-consuming icons of the American car industry. By the way, the seemingly perfect guy turns out to be a bit gay at the end only for the sake of a cheap joke. What a courageous irony on the part of the creators.

Also on Adam’s side we have a tempting colleague who hasn’t got a car but has a pair of ugly, thick-rimmed glasses instead, making it quite clear that she is a slightly weird character, as well as, reserved and misunderstood, whose only wish is to be finally loved by someone.

The story is based on the plain and simple idea that Mr BMW and Ms Audi try to maintain a relationship merely based on “sanitary” sex with the total exclusion of the 4 letter word starting with L. So the creators have taken a secondary plotline so boringly well-known from sitcoms such as Friends, How I Met Your Mother…etc.) and moulded it into the script, as in another recent release, The Dilemma, in other words, it is the story of what should a good friend do when he finds out that his buddy’s wife has a lover.



In both cases it was an approved Hollywood craftsman that plopped into the director’s chair, in the case of The Dilemma Ron Howard, and in our case Ivan Reitman. However that coolness, which is an inevitable ingredient of a good rom-com and we have seen a few acceptable attempts at it by John Aptow or just take the brilliant 500 Days of Summer as an example – is not a characteristic feature of the 64-year-old Reitman. Even though the upbeat of the film seems to suggest that we would see bold, or (God save the mark) even hot situations at last with witty dialogues such as the scene at the beginning of the film when the teenage Adam poses an unexpected question to Emma or, and this seems to be the best of all, when the already grown-up Adam wakes up naked in a stranger’s home after a party and is unable to remember who he spent the night with, while the number of possible candidates keeps on growing as more and more women come into the room. By and large this is the point where the bubble bursts, and then the story turns towards an all too familiar track.

While the two protagonists are chasing each other with their forbidden feelings, we have the funny episodes of supporting characters to enrich the plot. Their function is the same as that of the cute, talking animals in a Disney-movie. They are rough caricatures but they get the best one-liners. In the name of political correctness, of course, there must be exceptionally funny black characters in the company of both the boy and the girl. Also Kevin Kline, who usually plays stable, composed intellectual characters, appears as Adam’s father and takes delight in making a clown of himself: he smokes joint, chases young girls and , his chest bare, he lifts weights by a swimming pool.



After all, this ‘formula’ is perfectly devised! In case we have at about five good jokes, and some more that are not so good, the ready-made parts can be joined as you like and we get a movie, and watching it the audience won’t leave the cinema fretting. The formula of the Hollywood golden mean serves exactly that purpose, but the filmmakers have insisted on it too consistently. There’s no latitude for the actors, no room for some “chit-chat” on which they can show themselves and become real characters. We will surely see No Strings Attached during long bus journeys, and will probably sigh with relief, because we could have had something worse. After all, a good romantic comedy is as rare as a well-kept old BMW in a small town on the Southern part of the Great Plain in Hungary – and this film is not one.


No Strings Attached

American romantic comedy (dubbed in Hungarian), 108 minutes, 2011 (unsuitable for u-16s)

Directed by Ivan Reitman

Screenplay by Elizabeth Meriwether,

Original Music by John Debney

Cinematography by Rogier Stoffers,

Produced by Jeffrey Clifford, Joe Medjuck, Ivan Reitman,

Film Editing by Dana E. Glauberman


Natalie Portman (Emma Franklin) Ashton Kutcher (Adam Kurtzman) Lake Bell (Lucy) Kevin Kline (Alvin) Cary Elwes (Dr. Metzner) Olivia Thirlby (Katie Kurtzman) Talia Balsam (Sandra Kurtzman)


translated by Koletta Kisbalázs and Anikó Garai