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Film / No Strings Attached

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No Strings Attached is a 2011 romantic comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Elizabeth Meriwether.

The story is about two longtime friends, Emma Kurtzman (Natalie Portman) and Adam Franklin (Ashton Kutcher), who decide to become Friends with Benefits.

This film provides examples of:

  • A Minor Kidroduction: The movie's opening scene takes place when Emma and Adam meet as preteens at summer camp.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Emma has an Ashkenazic Jewish surname (Kurtzman) and she's played by an Israeli actress though we never see her do any culturally Jewish activities throughout the film. The actress playing her sister is also Jewish though (but it may be a coincidence).
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Emma does this at the end of the film.
  • Anything That Moves: Adam's dad, Alvin.
  • Beta Couple: Patrice and Eli, shown having a normal courtship and relationship in contrast to Emma and Adam.
  • Bookends: This movie loves them, there's at least three:
    • The first time Emma and Adam go out together in the movie, it's to Emma's father's funeral. The last time, it's to her sister's wedding.
    • The first thing we learn about Eli is that he has two gay dads. The last time we see him he's introducing Patrice to his dads.
    • The first introduction to Adam's dad is him unexpectedly telling Adam that he's dating one of Adam's ex-girlfriend, his last scene is the exact same, only this time with a different ex-girlfriend.
  • Catchphrase: In-universe example, Adam's Dad was once the star of a fictional comedy show called Great Scott. Thus everywhere he went, everyone asks him to say "Great Scott!" for them.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Emma is vehement in being cold and distant to Adam, but the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes that isn't who she wants to be all the time.
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  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: It's called No Strings Attached so this trope is played straight for much of the film.
  • Fanservice: The sex between the two attractive main leads.
  • Friends with Benefits: The movie's title is a reference to a term used to describe non-romantic sexual relationships of which Emma and Adam have until the end of the film.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Emma hinted with Adam about going with her to something stupid the day before. So he shows up in a Michigan bright yellow hoodie and shorts to her dad's funeral.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Invoked Trope; two lesbians realize they love each other while on either side of Adam, and pretty much start making out on top of him. At first he's just uncomfortable, but then he realizes he can use the moment to make it look like he's about to have a threesome (It Makes Sensein Context), and gets his friend to take a picture of him in the middle of them. Adam then actually (half-heartedly) tries to have a threesome with them. They aren't very interested in him.
  • Gold Digger: Vanessa, after she and Adam broke up. She cheated on him with his dad and told him straight up that she wanted to marry, have a baby and thus become Adam's stepmom. Thankfully, this plan was averted at the end of the film.
  • Hate Sink: Vanessa is Adam Franklin’s ex girlfriend, whom leaves him for his own father, Alvin, straining the relationship of the latter two. Vanessa tries to ingratiate herself with Alvin by planning to have a child with him, an action which provokes Emma Kurtzman into calling her out for her past and current treatment of Adam. When Alvin overdoses on cough syrup, an action for which Vanessa is responsible, albeit unintentionally, she leaves Adam with her dog while she ditches Alvin to go to a party, refusing to take responsibility for her actions. Hedonistic, materialistic and self centred, Vanessa proves herself to be a thoroughly terrible person, despite being a relatively tame character in a relatively tame film.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Adam's dad composes an original birthday song for him.
  • Has Two Daddies: Played straight with one of Adam's best friends.
  • Hospital Hottie: Emma is a fairly attractive doctor.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Emma and Adam do this in the very last scene.
  • Love Father, Love Son: Adam's father keeps dating his ex-girlfriends/women who fell for him.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Guy: Adam. So adorable, romantic and quirky, he might as well be played by Zooey Deschanel. Seriously, the guy made her a period mix.
  • Mood Whiplash: A big one when Adam confesses that he loves Emma and she responds by repeatedly punching him in full view of public. A police officer has to come by and break them up.
  • Mr. Fanservice Plus several minutes of Man Service with Ashton Kutcher in nothing but a tiny towel covering him up as well as a close up of his butt. Even one of Emma's friends were impressed.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Literally one second of Natalie Portman's butt.
  • Naked First Impression: Adam, after a day of drinking away his sorrows he finds himself on the couch where Emma and her three friends stay at with only a hand towel over his area. Even better, according to Emma, he threw off all his clothes and danced around, waving his penis around the night before.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: In-universe and played straight. Everyone loves Alvin, but in real life, he treats his son Adam like crap like dating his ex-girlfriend Vanessa.
  • No Social Skills: Lucy. Dear God, Lucy.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Hard. The first, and maybe the most, romantic thing Adam does in the movie is bring Emma cupcakes, make her soup, and give her a period mix.
  • One Head Taller: Adam and Emma (Ashton Kutcher is 6'2,5, Natalie Portman is 5'3). They even lampshade this at one point.
  • Pair the Spares: All the secondary characters are matched up in a montage over the end credits. Except Vanessa.
  • Product Placement: Adam and Emma proudly use Trojan condoms. And iPhones.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Emma and her fellow hospital coworkers/friends use these in quite a few jokes. Anytime Adam tries the same thing for them, they always accuse him of looking it up to which he humbly acknowledges so.
  • Sex Montage: Watch Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman merrily get it on all over the place with background music!