Can women ever have sex without emotion?
If life were like the movies, we’d all have best friends that looked like Justin Timberlake, bodies like Mila Kunis and repartee so quick that if a guy screwed us over, we could tell him to you-know-what himself with a you-know-what if we caught him sneaking out in the morning. But Hollywood doesn’t even come close to reality, so we’ll just have to imagine what such a life might be by watching Friends With Benefits, a new romantic comedy that explores whether or not men and women can actually be, well, friends. Do you think it’s possible?
JT’s hipster art director Dylan and Mila’s headhuntress Jamie aren’t pals when the movie begins. Their is not a friendship that blossoms over time, leaving the two confused over their longtime latent feelings for one another. Nope, Jamie poaches Dylan from his arty little LA job and moves him to Manhattan to land a plumb position at GQ.
Over the course of a summer, the two hang out nonstop. They play video games, they go for walks in the park, they get drunk. Then they decide to have sex, just to get it out of their systems, as both are horny, ‘messed up’ (or so say their former partners) and lonely. They decide on “no emotions, just sex.” They do the deed repeatedly, and then just stop because Jamie decides she’s ready to start dating again. Hello? Why does sexy Dylan in his darling little button downs and skinny ties never cross her mind as a viable option?
Oh, yeah. They’re just ‘friends’.
Except they’re not. When Jamie’s mom (the hilarious Patricia Clarkson) blows off their 4th of July plans, Dylan invites Jamie back home to LA to spend it with his family. When they have sex at his awesome Malibu beach house, it’s different. It’s clear both feel things. It isn’t just sex. There are ‘strings attached’, if you will (a movie, by the way, which pales in comparison to this one. Did you really think chalk-and-cheese actors Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher could pull off this kind of chemistry?).
Of course, all romantic comedies need a Hollywood ending and a healthy dose of unreality. They wouldn’t be true escapes otherwise. In that sense, Friends With Benefits answers its own question: the benefit of having a really good friend is that your pal is the one person who truly knows you, that friendship is the basis for a strong relationship and that no, we cannot have sex without commitment or emotion.
Jamie is great at not letting the frequent midday romp affect her friendship with Dylan (especially because he constantly reminds her that they’re just ‘buddies’ before going yet another round of the horizontal tango) but it’s when her defenses are down that she starts to want something more from him.
There were a few things that were staggeringly clear to me from the onset of the film. #1: Jamie and Dylan were perfect together. #2: He was a stubborn idiot. This guy not only found his ‘best friend’ to be gorgeous, but felt closer to her than he ever had to anyone and wanted her to be the last person he spoke to before bed every night, and couldn’t admit that he had feelings for her? Why are guys so weird? They truly are from Mars. Or Pluto. Or perhaps even a completely different galaxy.
As his gay sports editor Tommy (Woody Harrelson) tells him, “You know what I discovered – it’s not who you want to spend Friday night with, it’s who you want to spend all day Saturday with…feel me Felix?” Dylan responds, “Yeah, I get it Tommy.” Tommy shakes his head and says, “Yeah, you don’t.”
Ain’t that the God’s honest truth?
Do I think that you can have a friend with benefits? Maybe men can, but women sure can’t. If you ladies think I’m being anti-feminist, go right ahead. But try an experiment first. Find a guy you genuinely consider to be a friend, go screw him silly for a few weeks, and then just try to tell me you don’t have any kind of feelings for him afterward beyond simple friendship.
I don’t think it’s in our nature to have casual hookups with someone we trust and care for. So be very, very careful if you decide to go this route with a male friend. Make sure, like Jamie and Dylan, you have a mutual agreement — and don’t try to deviate from it. Sometimes our lives have Hollywood-style endings, but more often than not, we’re firmly rooted in reality. And when a guy says up front that he just wants casual sex without strings, that isn’t a secret code for ‘I’m just exploring your body for now, but I really want a relationship later’. Men don’t work like that.
I’d avoid going there with your male friends at all costs unless you both want the same thing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…