Friends with Benefits (2011) vs No Strings Attached (2011)
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Friends with Benefits (2011) vs No Strings Attached (2011)

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
"Friends with Benefits" vs. "No Strings Attached," which is the better 2011 rom-com? Our vs. includes how they met, the main man, leading lady, and more!
Transcript

Friends with Benefits 2011 vs No Strings Attached 2011


Welcome to MsMojo and in this installment of Versus we’ll be comparing 2011 romantic comedies “Friends with Benefits” and “No Strings Attached”.

For this list, since these movies pretty much share the same plot, we’ll be comparing the finer details to see which one comes out on top.

Did you agree with our winner? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Round One: How They Met


Jamie is a headhunter in New York who’s tasked with locking down Dylan as GQ’s new art director. She has to convince him to relocate from L.A., so meets him at the airport to welcome him to New York and show him a good time. No, not like that, well, not just yet. It’s a saccharine meet-cute as Jamie isn’t having her finest moment when Dylan first spots her. They properly meet when they both go to grab Jamie’s makeshift sign at the same time. Is it funny? Sure. Have we seen this kind of amusing first encounter hundreds of times before? Absolutely.

The writers clearly decided that Emma and Adam needed a deeper backstory to justify their relationship. The pair first meet as teenagers at camp and then ran into each other again while at college, and then again as adults. Although, we must admit it’s a bit weird to invite a date to your father’s funeral. Still, this background creates a stronger foundation for their relationship and makes it more believable. It seems like no matter where life takes them, they’re constantly drawn back to each other. Even if it does take a drunken phone call. It’s clearly been thought-through, which is a point in this movie’s favor.

WINNER: No Strings Attached

Round Two: How They Decide To, You Know…


While hanging out at Jaime’s apartment, the conversation turns to the advantages of having a physical relationship over an emotional one. However, what starts as a hypothetical back and forth gets Dylan thinking. And as he checks Jamie out, he decides that she might make a good tennis partner. And apparently, Jamie is all up for the game too, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of their friendship. Although the downplaying of their attractiveness is a tad farfetched, their business-like approach to setting the ground rules is quite amusing. From the moment they swear on Jamie’s iPad, it’s game, set, match.

After Adam’s dad and ex hook up, he drunkenly calls every woman in his phone only to wake up on Emma’s sofa the next morning. She helps him piece together the events of the night before and proposes the “No Strings Attached” arrangement. She also lets him know that romance is definitely not on the cards. It seems like a good idea at the time, although Adam falls fast and hard. Maybe it’s just that their chemistry isn’t as strong or maybe the moment just needed more comedy. Either way, it’s simply no tennis match so Jaime and Dylan’s grand slam wins this round.

WINNER: Friends with Benefits

Round Three: The Main Man


The singer-turned-actor Justin Timberlake plays Dylan Harper, a magazine art director from L.A. He’s considering relocating to New York for a job at GQ. The “emotionally unavailable” man is a trope we’ve seen time and time again. However, we’re willing to overlook it on this occasion, as it’s his chemistry with Jamie that we find so compelling. He’s close to his family, especially his father who’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The Fourth of July weekend they spend with his folks gives the character some much-needed meat too. While he and Jamie are similar in many ways, it’s their differences that make this pairing work.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Merriwether gives us a fresh approach to the female protagonist, but the same can’t be said for the leading man. Admittedly, it’s not often that the man is shown to be the emotional one in a relationship. Like the others, Adam struggles with a complicated family situation. Unlike the others though, he’s sweet, compassionate, and rules with his heart. However, that just means that he becomes very predictable, and the will-they-won't-they tension is completely eliminated. If it wasn’t for Emma pulling the, um...strings, there would be no drama at all. Sorry, Adam but we’re giving this one to Dylan.

WINNER: Friends with Benefits

Round Four: Leading Lady


Jamie Rellis, played by Mila Kunis, plays into the trope of the self-confessed “emotionally damaged” individual. However, underneath all of that, she still dreams about a fairytale love story and for Prince Charming to sweep her off of her feet. You can understand why Dylan is instantly drawn to her though. She’s funny, smart, and an all-around likable character. Still, while the movie seeks to undermine rom-com stereotypes, we can’t help but feel like Jamie is just your run-of-the-mill female protagonist that we’ve seen hundreds of times before. Even her job is just a catalyst for her to find love.

On the other hand, Emma, played by Natalie Portman, uses her job to reject romance. She’s a hardworking doctor with very little time for anything else. Like Jamie, her past has left her reluctant to open up her heart. But she’s the one who initiates the “No Strings Attached” arrangement, because, after all, women have needs too. Emma is a more well-rounded character and shows more depth than her counterpart. We don’t necessarily feel like her only motive is to land the guy and get that happily ever after. But we guess that’s what you get when you have women writing female characters.

WINNER: No Strings Attached

Round Five: The Grand Gesture


No romantic comedy is complete without that huge, over-the-top, romantic gesture. Not even one called “Friends with Benefits.” When Dylan plans his theatrical declaration of love for Jamie, his gesture ties together some of the earlier moments of the movie. This includes the Times Square flash mob, Jamie’s penchant for romantic movies, and his love of Kriss Kross’, “Jump.” With Jamie’s mom’s help, he gets her to Grand Central Station where his big romantic gesture plays out. As a flash mob breaks out around her, Jamie spots Dylan across the crowded station. It’s a tongue-in-cheek dig at the genre but an entertaining one nonetheless.

Six weeks after ending their relationship, Emma starts to miss Adam. Yet, when she goes to confess her feelings to him, she sees him with another woman. Eventually, the pair reunite at the hospital after Adam’s father is admitted. Emma finally admits her feelings for him and they have breakfast together, marking a new dynamic in their relationship. Emma had previously stated that she had no time nor desire to have breakfast with a guy. This scene is certainly sweet, but not grand enough to win this round. Perhaps, we would have thought differently if breakfast had come with a side of flash mob too.

WINNER: Friends with Benefits

So with three points for “Friends with Benefits” and two for “No Strings Attached”…

FINAL WINNER: Friends with Benefits
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