Saying that this tale of successful professional types (Timberlake, Kunis) who agree to a fuck-buddy arrangement is worlds better than its similarly themed predecessor No Strings Attached may be setting the bar so low that it's basically resting on the ground. Screw the faint praise, then; we'll just say that That '70s Sex Comedy: Part II is one of the best romantic larks to hit theaters in ages. The stars may be otherworldly attractive, but they demonstrate a warm, down-to-earth chemistry as a pair of single pals left emotionally wary after a bevy of dating mishaps. Friends with Benefits begins as an unrepentantly raunchy romp---when's the last time a mainstream release slipped in a joke about kissing after oral sex?---that turns into a metacommentary on gooey rom-com conventions.
It's after the sex friends go back to being just friends that the film really hits its stride, and that's also when the excellent Patricia Clarkson and Richard Jenkins enter the picture as loving but imperfect parents who help explain what's made both leads so gun-shy. Despite the gimmicky premise, the film offers a genuine consideration of the belief that the closest relationships need to be guarded from being "ruined" by romance, Kunis and Timberlake achieve the trickier feat of looking just as happy hanging out as they do sucking face, and when the clichs inevitably come rolling in, they feel earned rather than like a cop-out. You actually want this couple to find a real happy ending instead of just "happy endings."
Watch the trailer