I guess at this point I’ve chosen my destiny to the extent that, barring some miraculous talent infusion, I will probably never interview Ashton Kutcher. It’s not just that he’s a mediocre actor, I’m just allergic to the guy. Something about his onscreen persona — a sense of entitlement backed up by pseudo intelligence, perhaps — just sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to punch him, and I am a very bad puncher who should never be punching anyone.
Nevertheless, I present this red-band trailer for his latest rom-com, “No Strings Attached.” It’s completely NSFW because it’s a bit fuck-happy, both in terms of the act and the heavy and loud use of the word itself, and it does have some chuckles. There’s a bit of Kevin Kline as Kutcher’s father at the beginning, heretical though the thought is that one of my favorite extant actors could begat a Kutcher. Also, for those of you to whom this is an inviting or repellent thought, be advised this trailer also contains a brief moment of what may be naked Kutcher keister. Natalie Portman is, at least, underclothed in many of the shots even if no specific naughty bits are revealed.
I’m returning to my occasional game of comparison between successful and not so successful attempts at humor with a contrast that’s less outrageous than usual. Today we have two new trailers for comic films dealing with the not-really-so-new phenomenon of people having sex with friends they’re not actually dating. Neither is bad, exactly, but I think one is definitely funnier than the other.
The trailer that came out last night for “No Strings Attached” isn’t terribly unfunny. It also isn’t all that terribly funny or compelling and, in my view, there’s mostly one reason for that and he’s winking at you right now. See if you agree.
Now, we move along to today’s Red Band (and hence a bit mildly NSWF) trailer for the similarly themed movie with the title you knew someone was going to use: “Friends With Benefits.”
Not necessarily a work of genius but pretty entertaining stuff that had me laughing out loud right at the end. The difference? Well, it’s pretty clear that we have a leading man issue. Though I might be tempted to argue he’s a better producer than director, Ivan Reitman has certainly proven he can make a very decent, or better than decent, comedy. However, Billy Wilder, himself would have probably made a mediocre film if the studio saddled him with an Ashton Kutcher equivalent. Natalie Portman‘s a very good actress who I’m sure will bring out the best in Kutcher, but his best, as far as I can tell, isn’t good.
Starting out as a teen idol, some initially dismissed Justin Timberlake in much the same way I still dismiss Kutcher and, before I actually saw him in anything, I might have expected to feel the same. Funny part is, Timberlake turned out to be a hard working and very likable actor, and his notices for “The Social Network” indicate he’s going to continue to be moving up. He also he has no problem making fun of himself and his career so far. Here, it really pays off and with Mila Kunis — another actor who’s turned out much better so far than I originally expected — he’s really got something to work with. A wise choice by “Easy A” director Will Gluck.
So, my advice to directors considering casting choices is clear: seek the Timberlake; avoid the Kutcher.