Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Similar Subjects

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. After spending a number of weeks looking at actors who tend to play the same characters, it’s time to spotlight two films with eerily similar plots that came out at roughly the same time. There are surprisingly more examples than might be obvious, and this series will examine the similarities and differences between the two, and how their simultaneous releases affected each other.

No Strings Attached / Friends with Benefits

Release dates: January 21, 2011 / July 22, 2011

The similarities: Interestingly, both films starred an actress from the 2010 Best Picture nominee “Black Swan.” Oscar winner Natalie Portman was in the former, while Golden Globe-nominated supporting star Mila Kunis took the lead in the latter. Portman was also paired with Kunis’ former “That 70s Show” costar Ashton Kutcher. Both films followed best friends whose label-less sexual relationships predictably cause problems after emotions develop. Both films earned an R rating for a fair amount of profanity.

The differences: The relationships weren’t actually the same, mainly because Emma (Portman) and Adam (Kutcher) weren’t even friends before they started their friends-with-benefits romance. As a result, that film never quite took off, while Jamie (Kunis) and Dylan (Justin) took time to become best buds before getting into bed together. On the acting side, Portman and Kunis were both flirtatious and fun, but their leading men had different capabilities. Kutcher’s performance was highly unimpressive, while Timberlake, who made a smooth transition from music to film, was far funnier and more enthusiastic. The overarching story in the latter film was also far superior to that of the former.

The releases: Reviews for “No Strings Attached” weren’t overwhelmingly positive, and as a result, people were still excited by the time “Friends with Benefits” came around. Interestingly, the former film did much better domestically than the latter, but the foreign gross for the latter ultimately gave it the edge and allowed it to make about $2 million more.

Which one is more likely to be remembered? Definitely the latter, mainly because both Portman and Kutcher already have established film careers, while this represents the first leading role for both Kunis and Timberlake, whose cinematic careers are still on the rise. Both are decent films, but “Friends with Benefits” is definitely much better.

No comments: