The thing that Ivan Reitman did right - making a film after 5 years - was to get a woman to write his next romantic comedy and then pepper it with a cast of talented, lovely ladies. This automatically should have given the film come charm and a point of view not seen in most romantic comedies out of the Hollywood stables. What he did wrong was trust his instincts and make a film that insults women anyway.
Natalie Portman's character, as written and directed, is mean, petty and stupid, and she is willfully ignorant of her own self. In a film where two friends get together to have casual sex and not get tangled in relationships, it is the woman who takes the longest to get herself together, and the womanising man-child is portrayed as a saint who never did any wrong.
Be that as it may, Ashton Kutcher is nowhere near the actor or the star to be the role he is asked to. His turn as the witless friend with even bigger dolts for friends is bland and charisma-free - a death knell for a rom-com.
The biggest problem, though, is that with friendship and sex acknowledged as part of the lives of the protagonists, we are never invested in whether "they will get together". For all intents and purposes, they are together. There isn't a visible obstacle to their romance, except probably for poor definition. "It's Complicated", as they'd say on various social networks.
Which isn't enough to peg a film on, really. They're together, and they're having sex. Anyone can see they are happy together. This makes us completely detached from their lives as they continue on. Portman's character is set up to not realise what she wants until she's lost it - but until she does, we have no way of seeing why this is a bad thing.
Possible salvation comes in the form of some great comedic acting by the supporting cast, especially Lake Bell, Abby Elliott, Greta Gerwig and Kevin Kline. They are mostly wasted by Reitman, but when they get their chance to spew some funny, they deliver the goods like nothing else. Kline especially, as the hippy father, is an utter treat to watch as he breaks out one loopy zinger after another.
Elizabeth Meriwether's script is also very topical. Modern relationships and their reliance on technology are very nicely captured, and also give some lovely moments to the supporting cast. It's quite smart for a standard rom-com, and goes a way to negate the ennui of the film.
Overall, No Strings Attached is a boring little film with no obstacle to the romance and hence to import, but some nice acting and a script that gets modern young relationships can keep you from totally hating it.