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A new trend in romantic comedy movies has cropped up recently. Friends With Benefits, directed by Will Gluck (Easy A, 2010), is set to come into theaters this July 22, adding to a long list of similarly themed projects. In just the last year alone, No Strings Attached, an independent film titled Friends (With Benefits), and a T.V. series set to launch this fall on NBC have all sported an almost identical premise: boy meets girl. Both boy and girl are too busy to find a meaningful relationship, but not too busy to have desires. Boy and girl become friends… with benefits. Complications arise and hilarity ensues.
If you have already seen any of these other films, it is easy to compare them with Friends With Benefits. A number of sites have published detailed comparisons between No Strings Attached and Friends with Benefits, judging everything from who is the better director, to which actor or actress has been in the most successful films. While there is some value to this type of comparison, there have been many movies with similar or even identical plots that turn out very differently from each other. Friends With Benefits may have a similar plot-line, but it is not the exact same film.
Gluck was very aware of the common plot when he began directing this film, but he felt that this well-known plot could actually add to the film instead of taking away from it. He told cinemablend.com that he wanted to do a “big time Hepburn and Tracy movie […] But [the actors are] conscious they’re going through the same thing. We now have seen so many movies and gone through so much stuff we know the story.” Gluck knows his audience is familiar with the basic plotline, and he is ok with that. He even takes things one step further and gives the characters in his films that awareness. He then combines this dual awareness to create a smart and funny film.
Friends With Benefits stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, with a number of cameos by actors such as Shaun White, Jason Segel, and Rashida Jones. While the thought of Timberlake becoming an actor as well as a singer seemed unthinkable several years ago, he has begun to establish himself as more than just a singer who was in one or two films. His role in Social Network has added a lot to his credibility, and it seems that Friends With Benefits just might boost his image even more.
Gluck has managed to take an almost tired concept and imbued new life into it in his film. Instead of ignoring the host of other films with this theme, he looked back at the classic Tracy and Hepburn romantic comedies for inspiration to create a hilarious new romantic comedy. He is known for his off-the-wall humor, and his work with Friends With Benefits is no different. It is this humor that adds something new to the film and makes it more than just another copycat.