Thursday, April 20, 2006

Just Friends

Title: Just Friends (2005)
Dir: Roger Kumble
Tagline: He lovers her. She loves him not.
Rating: *** out of 5 stars

I liked this one a lot more than I expected. It's a paint-by-numbers romantic comedy, but the cast delivers just enough quirkiness to give Just Friends an extra boost.

Ryan Reynolds plays Chris, a man who was tormented in high school for being overweight and desperately in love with his best friend, Jamie (Amy Smart). Now ten years older, a hundred pounds lighter, and a helluva lot richer, Chris unexpectedly returns home to New Jersey when his private jet gets held up.

Realizing he still has feelings for Jamie, he tries to win her over but a few things get in his way, including a psychotic pop star (Anna Faris) stalking him and a geek-turned-Mr-Perfect who has the hots for Jamie (Chris Klein).

Reynolds is more likable here than he has been in some time. I have grown so sick of that same smartass character he plays in EVERYTHING, but he is a little more down-to-earth here. I also liked Klein more then usual because he branches out beyond that dim-but-lovable-jock character he's always stuck in. In Friends, he gets to be both sweetheart and asshole, both of which pay off for him.

Stealing the show is Scary Movie alum Anna Faris who plays a Britney Spears clone with an added level of craziness. Most of the film's laugh-out-loud moments come courtesy of her. She basically has the typical airhead role, but she made it her own. I also got a kick out of Chris' little bro, played by Chris Marquette (Girl Next Door), who other critics don't seem to like much, but I do. Deal with it.

The film isn't very original, and delivers the expected "be true to yourself" message, but it's just sweet and funny enough to keep most people interested. There isn't an overabundance of sex or potty jokes, which helps. It's not brilliant, but c'mon, you knew that. It's another holiday-based romantic comedy, and if you approach it with those simple expectations, you will be pleased.