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Just Friends
2005 - PG-13 - 97 Mins.
Director: Roger Kumble
Producer: Jake Weiner
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Julie Hagerty,
Review by: Harrison Cheung
Official Site: www.justfriendsmovie.com/
   

Pop diva and agent can't be just friends!
A bomb at the box office, ‘Just Friends’ is a surprisingly enjoyable romantic comedy. Canadian actor, Ryan Reynolds seems to be bouncing around between frat boy comedy (‘Van Wilder,’ ‘Waiting’) and action hero (‘Amityville Horror,’ ‘Blade Trinity’), but in ‘Just Friends’ he has a movie that makes the most of his Jim Carrey-like physical humor.

Back in the 1990s, overweight male cheerleader, Chris (Reynolds) was secretly in love with his best friend, super popular cheerleader Jamie (Amy Smart). When he finally declares his love to her, she insists that they will always only be “just friends.” Devastated, Chris moves to Los Angeles where he becomes thin and a talent agent for a major record company. He’s lost the weight but has also become a misogynist pig, treating women like sex objects. He becomes hyper-aware of any woman who suggests they start a relationship “as friends.”

When the record company chief assigns Chris to escort would-be teen pop idol, Samantha (Anna Faris) to record in Europe, the private jet develops a problem so the two Los Angelenos end up stuck in Chris’ New Jersey home town over the Christmas holidays.

Well-written and sharp-witted, ‘Just Friends’ is hard to classify. The trailers missed the mark by advertising it as a comedy a la ‘American Pie,’ and yet each character is so well-drawn, the movie is more like what ‘American Dreamz’ purports to be. It’s a satire of pop ambition, but it’s also a poke at family feel-good holiday movies as well as romantic comedies with a nice dose of 1990’s nostalgia thrown in.

Anna Faris, probably best known as the heroine of the ‘Scary Movies’ series, is hilariously vicious as the bleached blonde pop diva. She’s like a weird mishmash of Ashley Simpson, Paris Hilton, and oddly enough, Alanis Morrisette. Morrisette is Reynold’s real life girlfriend, and the irony is that Morrisette’s breakthrough record, ‘Jagged Little Pill’ was supposedly based on a particularly bad boyfriend experience. Whether Faris’ character was intentionally Morrisette-like or not, Reynolds happily plays to the joke as this diva makes her demands on the hapless record company executive, writing baaaaad songs along the way.

East versus West coast culture also gets full play here as Chris reluctantly visits with his old high school classmates and romps with good-old-fashioned gross horseplay with his kid brother who still lives at home. It's not a full blown high school reunion movie, but as the former fat kid, Reynolds revels in a number of uncomfortably hilarious moments down memory lane.

Though there is a certain degree of predictability in a romance, ‘Just Friends’ manages to turn the genre upside down with some twists and enjoyable sight gags. It's contemporarily crude without venturing into frat flick territory and slickly directed to be enjoyed by anyone of any age. Definitely worth the rental and a nice vehicle to show what Ryan Reynolds is capable of.

 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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