JUST FRIENDS, 2005
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Ann Faris, Chris Klein, Chris Marquette, Julie Hagerty
When former fat kid turned playboy Chris is forced to return to his hometown during the Christmas season, he meets his old best friend (and romantic interest) Jaime. He decides to try to get out of the friend zone and into her pants, but the singer accompanying him poses as much as a threat to his plans as the womanizing local who's also trying to woo Jaime.
I've always thought that Ryan Reynolds was better suited to comedy than drama (the exception being “Definitely, Maybe” in which he was just a joy to watch). “Just Friends” brings the actor back to his “Van Wilder” days, but his comedy is lessened by his attempts at real emotion in the romance aspects of this film.
The story starts in 1995. Chris is an obese curly haired nerd with braces and a lisp who's best friends with the beautiful and popular Jaime Palamino. Chris decides to tell Jaime of his romantic feelings for her by writing them in her yearbook. He tries to give the yearbook to her at her graduation party, but before he can it's taken by her jerk ex-boyfriend who reads the love confession outloud to every in attendance. Chris is humiliated even more when Jaime's response is to tell Chris “I love you... like a brother”. Chris leaves the party in tears, vowing to leave the town and become more successful than everyone.
Ten years later, Chris is a thin, attractive record producer making lots of money and sleeping with lots of women. His boss orders him to take pop singer Samantha James to Paris in an attempt to sign her to their label. Chris doesn't want to as he has a bad history with the singer, but the boss won't take no for an answer. On the plane to Paris, the idiot singer sets the cabin of the plane on fire by accident, forcing them to make an emergency landing only a few miles from Chris' home. Rather than getting a hotel, Chris takes the singer to his mom's house for the night until the plane is fixed and can take off the next morning.
That night, Chris and Samantha go to a local bar where Chris meets up with a few old friends, Jaime's ex boyfriend that embarrassed him at the graduation party, and Jaime herself. Chris comes up with a plan to woo and have sex with Jaime (which he thinks is due to him after the horrible high school years of neglect) and sets things in motion to not leave town when scheduled so he can have a couple of days with his former best friend.
Chris gets his younger brother (who has a celebrity crush on Samantha James) to take the singer to a local mall for a performance while Chris and Jaime go on a day date. Chris is injured on the ice and is taken to the hospital by former high school nerd, now attractive EMT Dusty Dinkleman. This reunites Jaime and Dusty, giving Chris unneeded competition.
Matters become worse when Samantha James finds out that Chris is seeing Jaime behind her back (Samantha has it in her head that she and Chris are meant to be). This does not bode well as Jaime is a bit on the crazy side anyway.
And to make matters worse still, when Chris finally gets his chance to have sex with Jaime, he doesn't take it, realizing he has real feelings for her and doesn't want to ruin things by sleeping with her and leaving her as he had previously planned to do. Can he still woo her with the double attack coming from Samantha James and Dusty Dinkleman to stand in his way?
“Just Friends” is a creative romantic comedy that seems both relate-able and over-the-top ridiculous at the same time! We've all been in the situation where we have feelings for a friend that aren't returned. We've all vowed to become successful and throw it in the face of those who were mean to us or didn't believe in us. But the antics that go on in this movie are definitely something that could only happen in a Hollywood film.
The acting is average or less by all actors involved. Anna Faris is good at playing the annoying and overly crazy, self obsessed Samantha James. Perhaps a little TOO good! But the other actors fall short in their roles and as a result, most of the film feels more like a soap opera played out by inadequate talent than a multi-million dollar movie.
The comedy in this film isn't that funny. There are chuckle moments, but no real laugh-out-loud moments. This is, of course, because the romance tries to be more real and “deep” than other romantic comedies. But, again, the over-the-top aspects of the film make even the romance seem forced and unreal.
I was amused by “Just Friends”, but only mildly. It was better than I thought it might be, but did not get to the level I hoped it would be.
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