By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 4, 2011 at 2:17AM
"No Strings Attached," we have officially given up on you. This writer's been banging the drum for Liz Meriwether's script "Fuckbuddies" for some time now, and despite a retitling, to "No Strings Attached," the presence of fallen comedy legend Ivan Reitman in the director's chair and Ashton Kutcher in the male lead, the cast looked promising: Natalie Portman was starring, and normally reliable names like Kevin Kline, Jake Johnson, Greta Gerwig, Mindy Kaling, Ophelia Lovibond and Olivia Thirlby were all involved.
When the disappointing first trailer hit, there was cause for concern, but we tried to convince ourselves that it was simply because the best moments of the very R-rated script couldn't be shown. With a new red-band trailer hitting overnight, have things been turned around somewhat? Not so much, no.
It's admittedly something of an improvement, but the added curse words and rear nudity haven't picked things up nearly as much as we hoped they would. There are moments here that work -- drunk Portman is normally fairly good value for money, and, surprisingly, Ludacris looks like he could be the film's secret weapon, displaying some fairly killer comic timing -- but for the most part, this seems looks like a sitcom that's learned to stand on its back legs and pretend to be a Judd Apatow movie.
There are moments here that are actually kind of embarrassing -- the opening exchange between Kutcher and Kline is awful, and displays why Reitman was a terrible choice to helm a script about twentysomething romance. It is, after all, just a trailer, and maybe the finished film will be a surprise, but with the release only two weeks away, we'd say that the summer's identically-loglined "Friends With Benefits," from "Easy A" director Will Gluck, with Portman's "Black Swan" co-star Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake, looks like the better bet at this point. We'll find out the early part of the equation when "No Strings Attached" opens on January 21st. [Trailer Addict]