Just Okay

by Alan Rapp on November 23, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

Just Friends has a bare thin plot, but enough comic bits to keep it afloat for most of it’s 96 minute running time.  Not great, nor as good as Reynold’s earlier entry this year Waiting (also co-starring Anna Faris,

Chris (Ryan Reynolds) was the fat kid in school who was in love with his best friend Jamie (Amy Smart) who never acknowledged or returned his feelings.  After a disasterous post-graduation party Chris leaves hometown Jersey to fly to L.A.

In present day Chris is a wealthy, shallow, successful womanizer who through a series of misadventures with a client he is trying to sign, bumble gum pop star Samantha James (Anna Faris), ends up making an emergency landing in his hometown.  Stranded he returns home for the first time in ten years.  He and Samantha decide to stay in his home with his mother (Julie Haggerty) and his younger brother Mike (Christopher Marquette).  He spends some time reminiscing with old friends Dala (Amy Matyio), Chuck (Fred Ewanuick), and Dusty (Chris Klein).

He naturally runs into Jamie and decides to use his womanizing ways to bed her and leave her on his way out of town.  The problem is all his attempts lead to disastrous consequences, each one more grueling for Chris than the last.

There are several comic moments that work and the film relies heavily on Reynolds ability to make something funny or silly or both.  The brother scenes between Reynolds and Marquette are some of the best of the film.  Farris is locked into the one joke character, the dumb blonde, but we’ve seen this from her before and aside from one or two big laughs her character is more annoying than anything else.  Like everyone else she is stuck with a poorly thought out and underwritten character that is on screen to provide ammo for jokes rather than to help tell the story.

The problems start to creep up when you realize many of these moments have been stolen from better movies.  We get Reynolds awkwardly playing hockey with kids in a scene that is more than a little reminiscent of the football scene with Matt Dillon in There’s Something About Mary.  The more disastrous things that happen to Reynolds the more he appears to be playing a younger Ben Stiller role.  The lack of originality continues to infuriate and steal from Meet the Parents to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

As for the love story, it just never clicks.  First off Chris is presented as a emotionless jackass for so long we really don’t care if he gets the girl.  Another problem is the character of Jamie.  Chris is in love with the memory of Jamie, but we are never given a compelling reason why he wants the current version.  And as unsympathetic and shallow as Chris is, let’s remember Jamie didn’t want him when he was fat and is only interested in him now that he is thin.  Add to the fact that neither Chris nor the writers can decide whether he is after revenge sex or true love and you’ve got a mess – a sort of love story between a total dick and a shallow cunt.

Reynolds comes off best here and show he can carry a subpar picture and at least keep it afloat and interesting.  Though not great or original, and inferior to Waiting… in almost every conceivable way, the film does still provide good laughs and diehard fans of Reynolds will find things to enjoy.  The rest of us can wait to see it on cable which should be in about six months.

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