No Strings Attached



Sexy romcom is cliched but surprisingly sweet.
  • Review Date: January 2, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Amid the frank sexual content, there's a romantic message: You can’t choose who you love, and you can’t control how to fall in love. There's also the suggestion that no matter how accomplished you are, life isn't complete without love.

Positive role models

The two main characters may be neurotic and full of bravado, but they’re also appealingly human. And though they might be confused about what a real relationship entails, they're kind and caring toward each other.


A young man punches an older man in the stomach.


The movie revolves around the idea of two friends hooking up purely for sexual gratification. They're shown in various states of undress -- him in nothing but a towel to cover his privates, her in underwear -- and in compromising positions. There are plenty of innuendos, and sex is discussed with much candor, including specific acts. Two women are shown making out.


Language includes frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "c--k," "damn," "ass," "bitch," "crap," "oh my God," and more.


Brands that are name- or label-checked include BMW, Stella Artois, Jolly Rancher, 7-Up, Patron, and Prius.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A father smokes a joint with his adult son. Later, the father has a bad reaction to a concoction whose main ingredient is cough syrup. A woman gets inebriated at a party; scenes of social drinking. Jokes about cocaine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this R-rated Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman romantic comedy is decidedly adult fare. It's a frank exploration of a modern-day relationship that's founded on a largely sexual basis, so you can expect plenty of unfiltered talk about sex, as well as characters shown in various states of undress and in compromising positions. There's also frequent swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), social drinking, and references to drugs. Despite the mature content (and plenty of romcom cliches), the movie is surprisingly sweet and does address questions about commitment.

What's the story?

Emma Kurtzman (Natalie Portman) and Adam Franklin (Ashton Kutcher) meet as 14-year-olds at Camp Weehawken, where Adam makes an awkward (and crass) pass that Emma turns down. Later, they run into each other at a frat party at Adam’s college, but even that moment slips away. It’s not until they get reacquainted again in Los Angeles, where Emma’s doing her residency at a hospital and Adam is working on a Glee-like TV show, that they finally become friends ... with benefits. Adam’s eager to date, but Emma’s not up for anything more than casual sex. Or is she?

Is it any good?


The set-up is standard issue and lacking in conflict, the dialogue hokey. Cliches are everywhere, including one particularly aggravating scene that has Portman’s character stuffing her face with donut holes after a romantic disappointment while listening to songs with Significance (with a capital S, naturally). Must every romcom include a scene in which women ease their heartache by overeating?

Yet NO STRINGS ATTACHED is surprisingly entertaining. Like the role or not, Portman commits to Emma, and we, in turn, commit to her. (Not so much with Kutcher’s Adam, though he’s not terrible.) The rest of the ensemble -- Mindy Kaling, Greta Gerwig, Kevin Kline, and Lake Bell -- is also impressive; they're a ridiculously talented bunch who make the usual supporting-cast peccadilloes amusing. It’s also refreshing to have the female character as the one who’s commitment-phobic, while the guy sits around waiting for his phone to ring (or ping with a text, as they do these days). All of these pluses distract from the film’s flaws, but you may still ultimately have trouble forgiving them.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the idea of a "friends with benefits" relationship. What messages does that kind of arrangement convey about love and commitment? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values when it comes to dating and relationships.

  • What's the appeal of romantic comedies? Although they tend to follow the same predictable formula, they remain popular. Why do you think that is?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 21, 2011
DVD release date:May 10, 2011
Cast:Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Natalie Portman
Director:Ivan Reitman
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexual content, language and some drug material

This review of No Strings Attached was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old March 8, 2011


You know, I may be ten, but, my class understands sex.
Teen, 14 years old Written byThink Watch Learn January 23, 2011

Good Conversation Starter-Not much worse than a PG-13

This movie was very enjoyable. As the title says the two main charecters are "friends with benefits." Alothough this is a racy idea it is presented nicely, niether glorifying it, nor shaming it. My largest concern is a scene fairly early in the movie in which the two main charecters are shown in a bed naked; thrusting is seen in addition to the screaming and whimpering noises. The truth of the matter is that almost all high schoolers hear about sex everyday in their hallways and this movie doesnt present anything worse than what is said at the lunch table. As long as you or your child has thier own morals - whatever they may be- not some movie's than this movie is a great choice for a few laughs and a heartwarming feeling. I was actually surprised this was given an "R." I normally choose to only watch PG-13 movies, so i was preparing myself for a racy film. I was very surprised when the movie wasn't really any worse than what is seen on network TV shows like Gossip Girl, Modern Family, and 90210. The only difference was a little more skin - which, let's be honest in PG-13 when two people wake up naked in bed with the sheets covering them we really dont have any questions about what they were doing - and a few f**ks instead of fricks -which once again we knew what they meant with the "frick." I hope you consider this movie not only for entertainment, but also for an opportunity to think about and talk about where you stand on sex with "No Strings Attatched."
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 16 years old Written bycayou January 30, 2011
it's good
What other families should know
Great messages


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