Just Friends (2005)
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Review Date: December 12, 2005
Director: Roger Kumble
Writer: Adam Davis
Producers: Chris Bender, William J. Johnson, Michael Ohoven, J.C. Spink, William Vince
Ryan Reynolds as Chris
Amy Smart as Jamie
Anna Faris as Samantha
A fat high school kid is in love with his best friend, but doesn’t have the guts to tell her his true feelings. When he finally does, she nixes him by saying that she wants to remain “just friends”. Been there, been told that. Ten years later, the fat guy is now skinny, looking great and kicking ass in L.A. When he returns to his hometown for the holidays with an ingénue singer in tow, he returns to his high school feelings and attempts to win back the girl of his dreams. Will ten years and a lot of lost weight make a difference? Or does the beeyatch still want to stay “just friends”. What think you?
I had a good time watching this movie. I don’t think anyone will ever accuse it of being the most romantic motion picture of our times, but it features two appealing leads, a handful of laugh-out-loud moments, a bunch of funny moments, a whole lot of smiles, along with a cozy Christmas atmosphere that’s just perfect for this time of year. Add that to its entirely relatable concept of a girl who considers her best guy friend from high school a great “friend” (and nothing more), while he’s secretly in love with her, and you’ve got yourself a nice recipe for humor and romance. Toss the very funny Ryan Reynolds into the mix as the lead “friend”, and I’m laughing all the way from his amazingly hilarious fat-suit to his more regular L.A. self, acting sarcastic, dry and very funny, most every time he’s on screen. One sequence featuring Reynolds going nuts inside of his Porsche was one of the funnier things that I’ve seen in a movie this year (not to mention the awkward kiss/hug scene). The film also features a handful of other stand-out comedic set pieces including one very humorous sequence featuring Reynolds playing hockey vs some local kids (the taunting by the kids was an added bonus) and a destruction of Christmas ornaments that was a blast to watch. Add that to the charming Amy Smart as the lead cutie-pie in question, Anna Faris as the very over-the-top and downright scary (and funny) Ashley Simpson/Britney Spears wannabe, a juvenile yet (once again) funny violent relationship between Reynolds and his kid brother and Chris Klein, as the oh-so-wonderful guy who is also fighting Reynolds for Smart’s affection, and you’ve got a great ensemble to boot.

The film also sets itself up very well, really embarrassing the younger Reynolds early on, and leading us right into the modern day, in which he’s a highly successful swinger in L.A., and still holding a torch for his high school sweetheart. Of course, having been through at least a couple of these “I like you as a friend” episodes in my own life, I could totally relate to Reynolds’ character, and even enjoyed some of the film’s sweeter moments. I only wish they didn’t drag it out as much as they did, with a few scenes in the end feeling a little redundant, as the back-and-forth between Reynolds and Smart just didn’t seem to have an end (even though we all knew where it was going). All that said, I truly believe that if you’re not a fan of Reynolds’ smug, sarcastic humor, you will likely not enjoy this movie, as he’s the battery that keeps it all charged. I’ve always enjoyed his goofiness and loved it quite a lot in this film as well, which combines a concept to which we can all relate to a number of very funny sequences, a handful of enjoyable characters and even some nice holiday romance. I liked it and can actually see myself watching it again next Christmas—hopefully, by that point…with a girlfriend of my own by my side. Then again, I might just be “settling” for a boyfriend at that point. It’s like my grandpa once told me, “An ass is an ass.” Merry Christmas, everybody!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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