Running Time: 96 minutes
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Chris Marquette
Directed By: Roger Krumble
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
A guy runs into his high school crush years later and wants another shot after she put him in the friend zone so many years ago.
Youth and unrequited love will be a story that will never get old in Hollywood. Most people have gone through pain and heartache when they are young so it is a story people can easily relate to. Just Friends is the story of Chris Brander. He is back in his hometown for the Christmas holidays and runs into his old high school crush and best friend Jamie Palamino. Her rejection of his advances back in high school turned him into a serial player and jaded him on the whole theory of love.
The film starts off and seeing actor Ryan Reynolds in high school and in a fat suit prepares you for a pretty decent comedy. Shoot ten years into the future and Chris Brander is fit, he is a womanizer, and he is a powerful music agent. Fate sees him back in New Jersey for the Holidays and the film gets underway. The film is not going to win any awards for best screen play but what it lacks in originality it more than makes up in charm. This film is all about second chances in life. Chris runs into Jamie and realizes he is still in love. It is in this courtship where the movie is the funniest. Chris tries everything he can think of to impress Jamie but nothing works. He drives an expensive car, he dresses nice, he talks a big game, he even takes her skating but it all goes horribly wrong. Throughout his failed dating plans you will find yourself laughing at Branders hilarious spaz outs and ability to inflict accidental bodily harm to himself and others.
Chris Brander played by Ryan Reynolds is no stranger to comedy (Van Wilder, Buying the Cow) so it is not a surprise he was good in this film. He is great as a geek in a fat suit and is a very believable music agent. His looks kind of detract from the role as it is hard to believe he would have trouble getting a woman but it is a comedy so it is easy to ignore. His crush Jamie Palamino is played by Amy Smart. She is a perfect leading lady in this and has that look and personality to fit the role. The film also has a solid supporting cast that adds many laughs. Top pop music artist Samantha James is played by Anna Faris and she brings the goods. She is hilarious as this ditzy Britney Spears type of personality. Her interactions with the blue collar folk of New Jersey only adds to this film. Mike Brander (Chris’s Brother) played by Chris Marquette was good in an loud and dorky way and Dusty Dinkleman played by Chris Klein plays this smooth EMT guy also vying for Jamie’s affection quite well. With two good leads and a veteran core of supporting comedic actors this film had to work.
This film really covers it all. It has Chris struggling to balance work and his budding relationship with Jamie. It has him freaking out on his family, himself, Dusty Dinkleman, Samantha James when things don’t go his way. When he is not freaking out he is usually destroying property or generally doing and saying dorky thinks. Viewers can take solace in the fact that someone so rich and put together can suck at wooing women. As the film comes to an end I was pleasantly surprised that this film had so many laughs. Well at times it can be childish like Chris getting into slap fights with his brother or Chris having to wear a retainer it has more successful jokes then fails.
Director Roger Krumble is no stranger to romantic comedies (The Sweetest Thing). He brings a much more polished finished product in this one. What he does well is disguise a romantic comedy inside of this film making it fun for most people. He also brought together a fantastic cast that gets the most out of this funny script (Adam Davis). The jokes come at frequent intervals and the odd situations that arise cover so many different areas that this will have a broad appeal. Well at times this film does stray with too much slapstick and dumb high school nostalgia it always is an easy watch.
I give this movie a recommendation but especially to romantic comedy lovers. Stick around for the end credits also to see Ryan Reynolds singing I Swear by All 4 One. It should not be missed and yes I was singing along while it was happening.
T Factor + If you like Ryan Reynolds as an actor this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like romantic comedies this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Hitch, Van Wilder.