Sunday, December 16, 2018

Movie Review: "Just Friends" (2005)

Director: Roger Kumble
Year: 2005
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

A once overweight high school loser has turned into a hot, successful womanizer in the last decade and inadvertently must returns to his hometown with one of the pop singers he works with. Once there, he reunites with his childhood crush, the girl who kept him in the 'friend zone.' He now thinks he has a shot with her because of his new looks and success. Unfortunately, being around her turns him into the bumbling failure he was when he was a kid.

Just Friends 2005 movie still Ryan Reynolds Amy Smart
"You'll always be fat to me, Chris." (Image Source)
The newfangled phrase the youths like to use to describe what happens to Ryan Reynolds' character in "Just Friends" is "glow-up," and that he most certainly did. This film is directed by Roger Kumble, who is known for directing movies like "Cruel Intentions" and "The Sweetest Thing." It is written by Adam "Tex" Davis, who is known for writing the made-for-TV movie "The Spring Break Lawyer." During his four high school years in New Jersey, Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) was a fat, curly-haired loser that was in love with his best friend Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart). Unfortunately, Jamie has only ever seen Chris as just a friend. Now as an adult, Chris has become thin and handsome. He now has stylish hair because apparently losing weight also straightens your hair. He also has a super high paying job in the music industry. Chris is asked by his boss to try and sign pop star Samantha James (Anna Farris) to their label. Samantha, however, is as obnoxious as can be and was once in a relationship with Chris, who is now a bit of a player. While Chris and Samatha are flying to Paris on a private jet one day, she sticks some fish wrapped in aluminum foil in the microwave, causing a fire, which forces the plane to make an emergency landing in Chris's hometown. Wow, what a coincidence!! Chris decides to meet up with his old crush Jamie to show her what a big shot he is now, but being around her turns him into the bumbling dud he tried to leave in the past.
Just Friends 2005 movie still Ryan Reynolds Anna Faris
"Well, if she wants Mr. Rogers, then I'm going to show here the biggest pussy she's ever seen." (Image Source)
"Just Friends" sure was made in a different era. It's crazy how much things have changed in 13 years. The fat-phobia runs deeeeeeep. This is a romantic comedy set around the holidays. The message here is that real beauty is on the inside, but it sure as shit doesn't hurt if you look like Ryan Reynolds on the outside. Like most rom-coms, it is cliche and predictable. We know from the moment it begins, where it's going to end, the question is, will the destination to its ultimate conclusion be a slog, or will it be hilarious? It's a little of both. Much of the comedy is outdated, which is crazy considering it's not that old. There are a couple of funny moments as Ryan Reynolds falls all over himself, berates himself, screams at himself, and makes a fool out of himself when he's thin in an attempt to show off for his high school crush. Though we did find ourselves chuckling here and there, unfortunately, there are far more instances where we rolled our eyes at the stupidity of it all. We mentioned that the story tries to have a grander message at play, but it ultimately fails to deliver it. Instead, it favors making men fight for a woman who might not even want either of them. Who knows, no one ever really asks her until the very end. In the meantime, the movie brings together two rival characters, Chris and Dusty (Chris Klein), who are former high school washout dorks who have both grown up to resent and use women because the girl they liked 10 years ago didn't like them back. That's the kind of behavior that'd make a person grow up to be an incel. There's even a moment where Chris blames Jamie for putting him in the 'friend zone' and basically calls her a 'cock tease' because she was friendly with him. What the hell? Why is it her job to police his feelings?
Just Friends 2005 movie still Ryan Reynolds Amy Smart
"Jamie doesn't date nice guys, she puts them in the friend zone and tortures the shit out of them." (Image Source)
All that aside, there is enough to like about "Just Friends" that puts it away from "bad" territory. It does have the ability to make you laugh from time to time, mostly because of Ryan Reynolds's typical shtick (so if you don't like him, you're going to hate this), but this is one of those times where the memories of movies we loved long ago are better than the reality of revisiting them.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
RT Rating: 42%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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