Magazine article The New Yorker

Native

Magazine article The New Yorker

Native

Article excerpt

The director Will Gluck has the native New Yorker's contempt for Los Angeles, hating himself for lounging by the pool there when he could be crammed on the subway here. Last summer, he was on the subway a lot, roaming around filming his wised-up new romantic comedy, "Friends with Benefits," which stars Justin Timberlake as Dylan, Mila Kunis as Jamie, and Manhattan as the adorable city of "Go fuck yourself!"

Last week, Gluck, a trim, green-eyed thirty-nine-year-old, knifed through Times Square with a Post under his arm and black Ray-Bans hooked over a worn gray T-shirt. In a rapid-fire deadpan, he pointed out where he'd filmed Timberlake and Kunis dancing to a "New York, New York" remix as part of a flashmob--cameras here, extras there, ten thousand tourists all around--and recalled with pleasure how the cops seized one aggressive paparazzo "and threw him back over the barricade--well, not threw him, exactly, but ushered him forcefully." He'd filmed another flashmob in Grand Central Terminal, and, he said, "we had commuters running through saying, 'I don't give a shit about your movie, I gotta get the six-fifteen to Stamford,' which I loved." He added, "We were going to shoot on top of the MetLife Building--not the Empire State Building, where everyone shoots--but falcons had nested there, so they shut it down. In L.A., they would have--" He levelled a finger at some imaginary nestlings and made a gun-cocking sound.

One of the film's pleasures is its movie within a movie, the rom-com "I Love You, I Love New York." That film's Manhattan is plainly shot in Los Angeles--we see palm trees, "Star Maps Here" signs, and Union Station lamely doubling for Grand Central--which is a carom-shot joke about how Hollywood doubles Vancouver for New York. Dylan and Jamie mock the film's sappy endearments and its formulaic don't-ever-leave sprint to Grand Central, even as they're wryly aware that their own story follows the same template. "My theory is that the audience sighs with relief when characters acknowledge they're in a romantic comedy, a cliched 'Harry Met Sally' situation," Gluck said. Indeed, "Friends with Benefits" has the same basic plot as the recent hit "No Strings Attached": a couple meet for sex, then fall in love. But, he said, "it's not the second movie about this, it's the ten-thousandth. Having sex and then developing feelings--isn't that just going out with someone? …

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