While visiting his hometown during Christmas, a man comes face-to-face with his old high school crush whom he was best friends with -- a woman whose rejection of him turned him into a ferocious womanizer.
Dave is a married man with three kids and a loving wife, and Mitch is a single man who is at the prime of his sexual life. One fateful night while Mitch and Dave are peeing in a fountain, lightning strikes and they switch bodies.
A high school slacker who's rejected by every school he applies to opts to create his own institution of higher learning, the South Harmon Institute of Technology, on a rundown piece of property near his hometown.
Chris Brander has always been friends with Jamie Palamino, but now decides it is time to take his relationship to the next step. The problem is that Jamie still wants to be 'Just Friends'. When he runs away and moves to L.A., he becomes an attractive music manager, whom everyone wants. When his jet catches fire and is forced to land, when flying to Paris with his newest singing sensation, Samantha James, he ends up back home. To his surprise, he encounters Jamie again, and sets out to be more than 'Just Friends' this time.Written by
In the opening scene when Chris is leaving the party on his bike, he paraphrases a line from Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road": "It's a town full of losers, and I'm pulling out of here to win." See more »
When Samantha is rehearsing her song "Forgiveness" in the jet, she asks Chris if she should use more vibrato. However, when she starts singing again, instead of using vibrato, she uses falsetto (she sings in a higher voice rather than giving the notes more vibration). See more »
We've all of course been stuck in what Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) of Just Friends refers to as "the friend zone." "It's like the penalty box of dating," he says, "only you can never get out. You've become a complete non-sexual entity in her eyes, like her brother or a lamp." It's a place everyone--young, old, male or female-- has been, and a place director Roger Kumble hopes audiences can relate to. His film attempts to dissect this romantic purgatory, but does so without heart or any sense of sentimentality. It reminded me of the romantic comedy (stress the comedy) genre that exploded in the late nineties and, five or six years later, imploded in on itself; films like Out Cold, Never Been Kissed, and 10 Things I Hate About You, that explored romance with a broad, gross-out sense of humor that sanded down the sharp corners of human emotion to, instead, make audiences laugh. Just Friends is, thankfully, at the better end of this genre's spectrum, but still dumbs the romance down to something of a clothesline for juvenile humor.
We first find Chris Brander in high school, composing a pivotal note to his best friend, Jamie Palomino (Amy Smart), in her yearbook. Chris is an outcast in school, presumably because he's a grossly overweight cheerleader, but has always had Jamie stand tall beside him. But of course, Chris is in love with Jamie and has chosen the night of their graduation to break the news. Things go south when there's an accidental yearbook switch and Chris finds his note being read by a dopey football player to a crowd of guffawing onlookers. He flees and we find him ten years later as a good-looking, womanizing, hotshot music producer in LA. His boss has charged him with the unpleasant task of producing the music of Samantha James (Anna Faris), a character that Ryan Reynolds described as, "Paris Hilton crossed with Britney Spears and a Vietnam Vet." Samantha feels inspiration will strike in Paris, the city of lights, and drags the unwilling Chris along with her. Because the two had a relationship some years ago, Samantha, the sex-crazed mood-swinging freak, feels the two should pick it up where the romance ended. Chris draws the line between womanizing and desperate loser however, and tries to defer her. Fortunately, Samantha accidentally lights a fire on the plane and forces it to ground in New Jersey, Chris' old home. Surprise, surprise, Chris runs into Jamie and the old flame is again lit. He now wants to seal the deal that he left hanging when he was humiliated back in high school in that miserable middle-ground called the friend zone. But now there's Dusty Dinkleman (Chris Klein). Dusty, back in high school, didn't even make it to the infamous friend zone, but now has had his acne cleared and guitar strings tuned to become viable competition for Jamie.
Ryan Reynolds needs to break out. He's a wonderful comedic actor that has been repeatedly cast in teenage popcorn flicks that fail to liken him to filmmakers and casting agents that could score him roles with real cinematic importance. With Van Wilder, Waiting , Blade: Trinity, and now Just Friends, Reynolds' films have met continual opposition from the critics. He carries these films and does so with a brightly lit torch, but someday he's going to have to step out into the real world of film; a world where audiences actually enjoy his movies. And like always, with Just Friends, Ryan Reynolds is pitch perfect. Especially gut-busting are his scenes in the fat-suit. The end credits find an extended cut of Chris as he belts "I Swear" into the mirror with shameless audacity. Its cheap physical humor, but, frankly, it's funny as hell. And throughout the rest of the film--even scenes beside those spent within the fat suit--Reynolds manages to make even the most mundane of lines brim with character and unexpected humor. Amy Smart also does well as Jamie, the completely lovable girl next door, convincing us of her supreme naivety towards Chris' affection. Also, Chris Marquette as Brander's cheeky brother makes for some laughter, virtually reprising his hormonally sex-starved character Eli from last year's Girl Next Door. But the two other main characters, Dusty and Samantha, only serve to punch in some wonton, adolescent humor.
The two work only to distract Chris and Jamie from what we know will inevitably occur in the final seconds of the film. Clichés like this can work, but only if the reason for drawing out the inevitable is worth the film it takes. With Just Friends, the antics of Dusty and Samantha are simply rehashes of tired humor. Samantha destroys Jamie's family's epic Christmas light arrangement and is accidentally put on stage at a Grunge Metal bar while Dusty strums to the bubbly delight of Jamie's family, and rescues Chris from a freak youth hockey accident. The humor these two create is senseless, and pulls Just Friends away from its homely romance and further towards adolescent comedy.
Just Friends almost works, but only with its romance between Jamie and Chris. It's muted and peppered with unnecessary farce, but their performances show heart and nearly pull the film through. The film may have passed ten years ago, when the genre was in full swing; but now it'll surely become just another critically hated flash in the multiplex.
-reviewed by Sam Osborn of www.samseescinema.com
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