By Alyssa Forleiter

Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star as rival ballet dancers in the dark, psychological thriller known as Black Swan. Yes, we all love getting inside the twisted mind of director Darren Aronofksy. Yes, we all love watching Portman stretch her acting skills to the fullest. We knew she could do it. And yes, we all love a good dose of Kunis playing the typical cool, free spirit girl. (Is it just me or did this seem like a continuation of her Forgetting Sarah Marshall character? After failing as a ballerina, she moves to Hawaii to work at a fancy hotel, falls for Peter, dumps Peter, moves back to the states once she realizes she needs Peter. It could work, right?)

The film garnered much hype for its stellar directing and its powerful acting. It was extremely well received, but I think everyone was a bit more pumped once they found out that Portman and Kunis were the ones executing these scenes. All of America seems to have this everlasting adulation for the two. Though, as soon as the film fades to white and the credits begin to roll, we all know that this intense rivalry is over. Do we really have to go back to our mere imaginations? Well, maybe not. It appears this rivalry will continue on at the box office.

No Strings Attached centers around two friends who decide to try and keep their relationship strictly physical. As it goes, it is not long before one realizes they may want something more. No surprise there. Portman stars with Ashton Kutcher. This guy seems to pop up in every rom-com there is. Now, fast-forward to July. We will suddenly have a strange sense of deja vu with the release of Friends With Benefits. If you are not sure what Friends With Benefits is about, go back a few lines and re-read the short synopsis for No Strings Attached. All you have to do is swap out Natalie Portman for Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher for Justin Timberlake. And, voila, there you have it.

Though FWB does not come out until July, Screen Gems released the trailer to FWB first. We all know the big execs at Paramount Pictures had one thought: “Oh, crap.” The NSA trailer was released just days later. Subsequently, some believe NSA to be the copycat flick despite its January 21st debut. The dirty, behind the scenes fighting between studios must have been reminiscent of a Tyson vs. Holyfield fight. Nonetheless, NSA is being advertised like it’s the film of the century. You cannot flip to any channel without catching a glimpse of the trailer. There is no taking away from the fact that Paramount Pictures has a big advantage over Screen Gems in releasing their version first. Sorry, Screen Gems, it was a nice attempt.

Now, let’s disregard the whole ‘who copied who’ and the ‘what trailer was released first’ nonsense. The main point is that these two films are eerily similar. They are essentially the same exact thing. No Strings Attached was once titled Friends With Benefits, which further proves how interchangeable these story lines are.  In fact, even some of the dialogue is alike. So, does it really matter which trailer came out first, or which film premiers in January versus July? Moviegoers will most likely pick one film over the other based on which cast they like better. Truthfully, there is no point in seeing both. Romantic comedies can harvest the occasional laugh, but they are all so painfully predictable. Neither Portman nor Kunis can change that.

With that said, in the hopes of avoiding your run-of-the-mill rom-com, both films feature the raunchy ‘let’s constantly have sex and curse as much as we can’ factor. Sure, it will garner laughs. It may be cheap humor, but it can make an audience chuckle. FWB is supposedly going strong for that R rated vulgarity more than NSA. And while NSA will definitely have plenty of candid moments, the film will apparently incorporate more of an emotional aspect to it. Cue every cliché in the book.

Though, haven’t we had enough of Kutcher’s endless roles in the rom-com genre? His last one was a complete box office bomb. You think he would have learned his lesson by now. Spice it up a bit, Kutcher, do something different. On the other hand, Timberlake is coming off the award-magnet film The Social Network. He has come a long way since his N’SYNC days. The guy can act and he has proved to us that he is pretty damn funny, too. It’s his turn to shine as the leading man.

Forget the boys, though. What it comes down to is this: Do you prefer Portman or Kunis? Which can be the funnier, cooler gal? Wait, this sounds familiar. Suddenly, these two seem to be battling each other all over again. It may be a different situation, but the rivalry is all the same. Which leading lady will succeed?

Well, Portman is definitely one of the finest, well-established actors out there. No one can take that away from her. She has played many interesting, dynamic characters in her past. The girl already has multiple awards and one Oscar nomination under her belt; she has yet to reach 30. However, her stab at the rom-com genre seems like she is just trying to prove how light and amusing she can be. But, does she really need to? We get it, you’re talented.

On the contrary, Kunis is known for her endlessly awesome, comedic characters. She was Jackie on That 70s Show and she played every guy’s dream girl in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And come on, she also does the voice of Meg on Family Guy. Kunis knows her comedy and she knows it well. FWB just seems more appropriately cast, especially with its leading lady. The movie looks loose, edgy, and carefree. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Hm, kind of sounds like Kunis’s character, Lily, from Black Swan, eh?

At the end of the day, whether you are Kunis or the male version of Kunis, you seem like the ideal person to go grab a beer with. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect friend with benefits?