Mila Kunis made her mark early in Hollywood by lying to get on to a hit sitcom before she was probably, technically supposed to be there because of her age. But it ended up working out pretty damn well and she’s gone on to have a solid career with a bunch of different films under her belt. For a bit she was mixing in some rom-coms along with heavy films and even an action flick here and there. She has a pretty intense range in that regard. Well, now one of those romantic comedies was just added on Netflix. You can check out her and Justin Timberlake in Friends With Benefits on the streaming platform.
Friends With Benefits follows many of the tropes and beats we’ve come to learn from romantic comedies over the years. Two friends are coming off breakups with their significant others, being dealt the bad news almost in tandem that their current relationships are no more. That leads to Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake’s characters entering into, what they believe to be, a win-win situation moving forward. Essentially, they will remain friends but will just also have the, well, benefit of having sex with each other. It’s clear that they are working hard to remove the emotional support angle from the proceedings and focusing solely on the bump and grind.
Because this is a Hollywood-created romantic comedy that is almost completely devoid of any actual reality, the relationship starts off really well with both friends getting everything they *need* out of things. Mila Kunis is prepared to maintain this type of arrangement for quite awhile while Justin Timberlake does appear to want to take things a little further. There are family introductions, cautions about why it won’t work, and a general sense that this kind of thing would never happen in the real world. Heck, the relationship is even tenuous in the film. Here, check out the trailer for Friends With Benefits.
What clearly starts as a friendly sex-as-the-only-thing relationship between Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake quickly becomes something more. It’s obvious the two characters get along in the film. And their disillusionment about the ideas around love and commitment only stems from being burned in the past. It’s obvious that these two are meant for each other here even if the rules around the original agreement are what begin to stand in the way of what’s probably actually true love. Will these two actually ever get together in the end? Will it turn into your standard rom-com? Probably, but it doesn’t mean they didn’t take a different, circuitous path to get there.
Friends With Benefits has an excellent cast beyond just Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. There’s the original significant others in Emma Stone and Andy Samberg, But we also get Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman and Richard Jenkins as well. The film was directed by Will Gluck, after having helmed Easy A to much critical acclaim. He’d go on to do Annie and Peter Rabbit in subsequent years.
This movie, for a romantic comedy, performed well with critics. It’s sitting at 68% on Rotten Tomatoes and 63% on Metacritic. Most felt that while the story was predictable from the outset, Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake both make up for a planned script with solid performances. It’s clear they have chemistry on-screen which lent itself well to the “will they” side of the “will they, won’t they” question these movies often have.
And it was a solid performer at the box office as well. On just a $35 million dollar budget the film earned almost $150 million in ticket sales worldwide. This is a massive haul for this type of movie and spoke to the star power of the leads at the time. It also was part of a very solid critical and box office run for Mila Kunis who had just done The Book of Eli and Black Swan and would be in Ted just a year later.
Mila Kunis just recently released Breaking News From Yuba County and next will be Luckiest Girl Alive about a woman facing an unimaginable trauma. And of course, there’s still the voice role of Meg on Family Guy. Go check out Friends With Benefits now. In terms of romantic comedies, this one mostly lands, and the two leads definitely carry the film.