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Wednesday, August 3,2011

It takes two?

‘Strings’ vs. ‘Friends’: The same, yet different — sort of

by James Sanford

Although it may not look like it, “Friends With Benefits,” which opened in January and is now on DVD, and “No Strings Attached,” which is now in theaters, really are two different movies; they just share a lot of strange similarities. Remember “Deep Impact” and  “Armageddon”? Kind of like that — with a little more sex.

Our lovable leads

No Strings Attached: “Black Swan” Oscar winner Natalie Portman as Emma and former Cameron Diaz co-star Ashton Kutcher as Adam.

Friends With Benefits: “Black Swan” attention-getter Mila Kunis as Jamie and former Cameron Diaz boyfriend Justin Timberlake as Dylan.

The coastal setting

No Strings Attached: Set primarily in Southern California, where Adam works on an embarrassingly bad TV show in Hollywood.

Friends With Benefits: Set primarily in Manhattan, although there is a detour to Southern California so that Dylan can have an embarrassing moment involving the renowned Hollywood
sign.

Our heroine’s living situation

No Strings Attached: Emma is a hard-working doctor, stuck in a laughably overcrowded apartment with an assortment of annoying roommates, including a fellow doctor who carries on like Madonna did in her infamous photo book, “Sex.”

“Friends With Benefits: Jamie is a hard-working executive recruiter, who lives alone in a laughably spacious apartment, until her annoying, freewheeling flower-child of a mom (Patricia Clarkston) turns up and carries on like Madonna did in “Desperately Seeking Susan.”

Our hero’s daddy difficulties

No Strings Attached: Adam’s dad (Kevin Kline) is a former TV star who takes his pants off with Adam’s former girlfriend because he has no concept of decency.

Friends With Benefits: Dylan’s dad (Richard Jenkins) is a former Los Angeles Times journalist who takes his pants off in public because he has Alzheimer’s disease.

Gratuitous pop-culture references

No Strings Attached”: “Beverly Hills, 90210”; Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love”; “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Friends With Benefits: “Pretty Woman”; John Mayer; “Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice”; Kris Kross’ “Jump”; Semisonic’s “Closing Time.”

Calling Doctor Love

No Strings Attached: Emma is wooed by Harvard-educated doctor-to-be Sam (Ben Lawson), which makes Adam crazy-jealous.

Friends With Benefits: Jamie is wooed by pediatric cancer specialist Parker (Bryan Greenberg), which makes Dylan crazy-jealous.

Famous last words

No Strings Attached: Emma and Adam agree: “No fighting, no lying, no staring deeply into each other’s eyes…”

Friends With Benefits: Jamie and Dylan agree: “No relationship, no emotions — whatever happens, we stay friends.”

The final verdict

No Strings Attached: Brace yourself for a real shock: Emma and Adam discover they’re actually in love.

Friends With Benefits: Jamie and Dylan discover — well, find out for yourself. You’ll be shocked. Really.

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