Friends With Benefits: A post-modern romantic comedy

The horror movie reached a notable evolutionary point in 1996: That was the year "Scream" came out, and, as even casual fans of the iconic Ghostface Killah will remember, it cheekily built a horror movie out of parts of other horror movies.

The operative word, of course, was cheekily -- not only did Kevin Williamson's script borrow liberally from many horror movies that came before, but it also poked fun at all the things it was borrowing. Spoof movies, of course, were nothing new, but Williamson added a twist, constructing a new entry in a genre at the same time he was tearing that genre down.

"Scream" came to mind when watching "Friends with Benefits," and not just during Justin Timberlake's rapping scenes. Among the film's many one-liners are jokes about the romantic comedy itself. Timberlake and on-screen partner Mila Kunis watch a sappy movie-within-a-movie about a young couple in love (played to rip-your-eyes-out perfection by Jason Segel and Rashida Jones). They joke about the way romantic comedies artificially use end-credit music to give a sense of closure. They even poke fun at the hoariness of the moment-of-truth-climactic scene -- while they're in the middle of one.

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