Sunday 4 April 2021

Movie Review: Just Friends (2005)

A romantic comedy, Just Friends lacks romance and delivers a distastefully mean brand of flippancy.

At a New Jersey high school, overweight Chris (Ryan Reynolds) is good friends with cheerleader Jamie (Amy Smart) but would like to be more. She is only interested in him as a friend, and as they get ready to graduate his crush is revealed and he is humiliated. He departs to build a new life in Los Angeles.

Ten years later Chris has slimmed down and has a successful career as a record company executive. He is shepherding combustible singer Samantha James (Anna Faris) towards her first big recording when an airplane mishap lands them both in New Jersey at Christmas time. Chris reunites with his brother Mike (Christopher Marquette) and mother Carol (Julie Hagerty), and attempts to make amends and win Jamie's heart. However, he makes all the wrong moves, and discovers a rival in former high school buddy Dusty Dinkleman (Chris Klein).

Almost entirely lacking in sympathetic characters, Just Friends is a misfire. Director Roger Kumble adopts an unappealing posture of hostile sarcasm, boys and men exhibiting juvenile attitudes in an obsessive pursuit of sex, women barely defined except as out-of-control cranks (Samantha) or objects to lust after (Jamie). Rampant homophobic and fat-shaming insults are layered upon sophomoric slapstick antics (Chris and his brother Mike engage in continuous physical combat) to confirm a movie twenty years behind the times.

With Jamie devoid of personality (Amy Smart is never provided the opportunity to create a real person) and Samantha caricatured as borderline psychotic (Anna Faris at least has a blast), Chris is the last hope to save the narrative. But as an adult he is an utter douche, intent on mistreating everyone and receiving ample and well-deserved humiliation in return. Ryan Reynolds overplays his eye-rolling, everything-is-stupid persona, dragging the adventure into obnoxious territory.

A few funny moments survive, including the comprehensive destruction of a Christmas lights display, but otherwise Just Friends is just feeble.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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