Reviewed by: Evan D. Baltz
|Featuring:||Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Ty Olsson|
|Producer:||Chris Bender, J.C. Spink, Michael Ohoven|
|Distributor:||New Line Cinema|
What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
He loves her. She loves him not.
Have you ever wanted to date someone, but you were already good friends and found it difficult to move past that stage? It’s that fairly common dilemma the aptly titled comedy “Just Friends” addresses. It’s a middle-of-the-road kind of situation in a middle-of-the-road movie. Funny enough to make me laugh out loud numerous times; formulaic enough for me to want my relationship to the movie to stay just friends.
Chris (Ryan Reynolds) is a nice enough overweight guy who is best friends in high school with Jamie (Amy Smart). She sees them as friends. He would like the relationship to be more, but is unable to articulate that to her in high school. He vows that he will one day. Flash forward ten years and the now successful and much thinner recording studio talent coordinator returns to his home town for a brief stop and has the chance to once again try to further his relationship with Jamie. Unfortunately, he is faced with the extra baggage of having to baby-sit his label’s new star, Samantha James (Anna Faris), a Britney/Christina amalgam. He enlists his younger brother to keep her company while he courts his love interest Jamie.
The challenge increases as he competes against another former high-school suitor, loser turned nice-guy, Dusty Dinkleman (Chris Klein). Chris’s plans continually derail as he makes one misstep after another, including a scene in which Jamie’s parent’s house, adorned for Christmas in a fashion that would have Clark Griswald jealous, ends up looking like the final scene to “Apocalypse Now”.
Ryan Reynolds’ comedic timing and facial expressions are generally quite good. His interaction with his brother and June Cleaver-esque mother is particularly funny and even sweet at times—as is his relationship with his high school sweetheart Jamie. However, the relationship seems a little forced and fairly predictable. But then again, I doubt anyone was expecting “Wuthering Heights”.
For what it attempts to be, I think “Just Friends” succeeds. It doesn’t stoop to the level of some of the years other comedies, in that it doesn’t contain any nudity or usage of the f-word. But it does run over at the mouth in the usage of quite a few other foul words, including an inordinate and unnecessary number of usages of the Lord’s name in vain—some 20 odd variations. There are also two brief scenes, played for comedy, of a girl kissing a girl and a guy kissing a guy.
This movie isn’t for kids. Being that the characters in the story are about 28, I would guess that is the general target audience. The music and themes would be ones most people in that age group could relate to. It seemed the guys in the audience were laughing out loud more than the girls, so that may say something about the movie’s sense of humor.
In real life, it is important to build long-term relationships built on friendship. That friendship should continue throughout married life. I think the main characters in the movie do realize that having a great friendship is something worthwhile, and if a romantic relationship is to develop overtime, it will, without forcing it.
“Just Friends” is nothing particularly special, but does have a few good laughs, and less crudeness than previous offerings this year, but still would be better in a slightly cleaned up version on TV in a few years. It’s probably the kind of movie that will make the TBS holiday season rotation. So as for this film, I’d prefer to just stay friends, and not go any further.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None