Just Friends (DVD) Review
A somewhat hilarious and charming romantic comedy, Just Friends explores the innermost depths of the infamous “friend zone” of male/female relationships. Directed by Roger Kumble, the brains behind the widely lauded film Cruel Intentions (1999), the film has a novel premise, and although not the funniest comedy to hit the big screen in the past few years, it does have some really funny moments. Adam ‘Tex’ Davis makes his debut as a screenwriter after extensive work in cinematography and TV writing, and his efforts are above average, but Just Friends is not in the same league as similar themed contemporaries such as There’s Something About Mary (1998) and Meet The Parents (2000). Nevertheless, it’s a film well worth seeing… Just Friends follows the life of Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds), a formerly obese New Jersey high school student in love with classmate Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart). However, Chris long ago fell into the “friend zone,” and although, he spent much of his adolescence bonding and building memories with Jamie, she never saw him as anything more than a friend. At their 1995 graduation party, Chris vows to reveal his true feelings, but his well-intentioned attempt blows up in his face when a jerk classmate humiliates him in front of his peers.
Enraged, Chris vows to leave town and “become somebody”. Fast forward ten years to 2005, where Chris is a thin, romantically smooth and wealthy record executive living in Los Angeles. He lives in a multi-million dollar house, drives a flashy sports car, and dates a string of beautiful models. Against his wishes, Chris is forced to watch over one of the company’s hottest pop artists, the ditsy and annoying Samantha James (Anna Faris). En route to Paris, their jet becomes grounded in New Jersey, and Chris is left with no alternative but to return home.
While there, he’s reminded of his lifelong crush on Jamie. With newfound confidence, Chris sets out to win over Jamie, but in so doing, he doesn’t act like the real Chris, and his actions have the opposite effect. Meanwhile, a rival suitor from high school, a guitar-playing nice guy named Dusty (Chris Klein), enters the picture. His courtship threatens to ruin Chris’s latest pursuit of Jamie, but in the end, the only impediment to Chris’s lifelong dream is himself… Cut from a formulaic genre, the resolution of Just Friends is rather predictable. But moviegoers don’t watch these types of films for suspense; they only want to laugh. And anyone who enjoyed Ryan Reynolds in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder is going to enjoy his performance in this film as well. Although not as well-written as the aforementioned film, Reynolds helps prop up the script with a well-cast comic persona akin to Owen Wilson and a straight-face delivery that would make Leslie Nielsen jealous. In fact, Just Friends is a good pick for those hoping to just laugh out loud. Two particularly hilarious scenes come to mind, one in which Chris makes an unexpected return to the ice rink after busting his lip, and one in which he receives an unexpected hand-hold while watching The Notebook. The latter is especially hilarious, and Adam Davis deserves extra credit for creating this classic and original scene.
In the end, Just Friends will never garner the status of all-time comedy cult classic, but for the present day, it more than fulfills its promise to create laughter.
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