Published Dec 01, 2005Maybe it was the lewd conduct in Van Wilder that set the bar too high, but it seems as though when Ryan Reynolds isn't at the top of his game the audience suffers. His brand of sarcastic frat boy humour broke through in that 2002 college comedy and has earned him a reputation as a talented and distinct comic. Essentially a rom-com in the style of American Pie and Old School you know, a healthy mix of potty mouth, gross-outs and sentimental conclusions Just Friends is the story of Chris, a successful record label A&R guy who is forced to baby-sit a Christina Aguilera clone (played to a tee by Anna Faris) and ends up in his estranged hometown when their plane malfunctions.
It is here where Chris finds his teenage best friend, Jamie (the lovely Amy Smart), who he was secretly in love when he was overweight and invisible in high school. He takes this opportunity to try and impress her with his new lifestyle and ends up falling for her again, though he must woo her away from his competition: another extreme makeover success (the insufferable Chris Klein).
Just Friends isn't the worst of these boorish date flicks; Kumble managed that title last year with The Sweetest Thing. Adam "Tex" Davis has written a script that is full of laughs, but riddled with just as many misses, such as Chris's pervy younger brother (Chris Marquette), who brings a new meaning to the word "irksome" and deserves every beating he gets from his older brother. Reynolds and Smart make a cute couple, and their interplay is delightful, but Davis writes Reynolds' Chris a little too arrogant, making it tough to root for him in his struggle.
And when the main character's problems aren't the viewer's concerns, the film falls back on its jokes as the crutch, which in this case appears as though it was purchased at a garage sale. (Alliance Atlantis)