Leave it to Ivan Reitman to ask the big questions that cinema has to date left unanswered: can two buddies have sex and remain just friends? Is sex with no strings attached possible, or will strings inevitably cast a fibrous shadow over proceedings, spawning a deadly hairball of affection, clogging the vital passages with treacherous threads of attachment?
Love as an unwanted consequence of sexual intercourse is perhaps 21st century cinema's equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease or accidental pregnancy, such is some characters' aversion to the idea.
In No Strings Attached, it's Natalie Portman's Emma who starts the movie appearing to believe that the withdrawal method - no breakfast together, no pet names, no declarations of feelings - will serve as an adequate form of emotional contraception. Ashton Kutcher's Adam goes along with this, that side of things traditionally being the woman's prerogative. Emma isn't the first female lead to take this approach, with examples in the past few months alone including Love & Other Drugs and A Little Bit Of Heaven. In those two films, both the ladies had terminal diseases, while here, Emma works as a doctor - perhaps it's an awareness of mortality that results in this allergy to attachment. Or perhaps it's that filmmakers think they're being desperately subversive by casting women as commitment-phobics.
Ultimately, this smacks of a film mechanically calculated to be tolerable to both men and women. As market research reveals, all women like all rom-coms with happy endings, just as all men like the idea of inserting their penis into the birth canal of a aesthetically agreeable woman who would prefer that you leave as soon as prolonged genital friction has stimulated a series of muscular contractions in the lower pelvic muscles, releasing seminal fluid from the male reproductive tract. Phwoar, eh lads?