Kutcher and Portman play Adam and Emma, two young people making their way in Los Angeles with varying degrees of success: Emma — an overachiever who admits that she’s not particularly emotional or affectionate — is a doctor; Adam — irrepressibly warm and affable, if a bit goofy — works as an assistant on a weekly teen-musical show, though he really wants to be a writer. Adam and Emma met years earlier, as kids at summer camp — the movie opens with that flashback, in which young Adam (played by Dylan Hayes) fires the first of the movie’s sexually explicit salvos when he asks Emma bluntly, “Can I finger you?”
[. . .]
Adam agrees, though of course we know that since he’s just a big mushbug, he’ll be the one to cave in first. And sure enough, he shows up at Emma’s apartment while she — along with two of her roommates, played by Greta Gerwig and Mindy Kaling — are all having their periods. Not only has he brought them cupcakes, which they descend upon with hormonally charged voraciousness; he’s also made Emma a “period mix” CD, including obvious choices, like U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and less obvious ones, like Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve Got the World on a String.”
[. . .]
It’s possible that Kutcher loosens her up. That may be one of Kutcher’s great gifts: He can, apparently, loosen anyone up. Kutcher is one of those actors who may, for the whole of his career, be just bubbling under. Maybe someday he’ll give a big breakthrough performance, playing a death-row prisoner who’s proven innocent via DNA testing or a football player, loving dad and model citizen who’s dying of cancer. I sure hope he doesn’t: Though I wish him success and the chance to make many more movies, I like him the way he is, throwing away his total adorableness as if he were Ingrid Bergman in Saratoga Trunk, being told she’s beautiful and laughing, “Yes! Isn’t it lucky? (Stephanie Zacharek, “Actions speak louder than dirty words in “No Strings Attached,” Movieline, 20 January 2011)
I wonder where Ashton gets his instinct to please from? Maybe there's something in the roles he takes, or the kinds of women he tends to date, that could give a hint? Anyway, it's surely wholly commendable -- who'd want to just a horse when you can be the prancing pony the whole of your life? Unless of course you could be the embarrassing jackass, Gervais: you'd think seeming like you'd never crawled out of the crib would count against you, but I swear he tore down the world sensing that life-long babies are morphing into scarily-bequeathed enfants terribles, who won't much longer have to know what it is to have to back down to adults.
Speaking of adults: Stephanie, you're always commendably calling for more films for them; let's keep up some voice for more adults in film, too: I know this one's about childish adults, but I don't want to wait for Ashton to be in some cancer role for someone to tell him it's NOT this time his part to play the fool.