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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.9%
Worth A Look: 25.86%
Just Average39.66%
Pretty Crappy: 13.79%
Sucks: 13.79%

6 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Just Friends
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by Todd LaPlace

"Just plain funny."
4 stars

I have absolutely no problem with saying that I love Anna Faris. She always turns in an exemplary performance, even when her movies are less than stellar (did anyone out there actually enjoy “Scary Movie 2”?). Judging from her latest film’s reception — the Ryan Reynolds co-starring vehicle “Waiting…” — I figured this would join the ranks of pitiful picture, fine Faris movies that litter her filmography. Perhaps that’s why I was so floored when “Just Friends” doesn’t fit the pattern. Sure, Faris is once again in fine form, but instead of the picture just being another hackneyed quickie flick, “Just Friends” is actually quite funny. Like laugh-out-loud funny. Now if we can just talk Faris out of doing “Scary Movie 4.”

I know that considering my lofty tastes and slightly snobbish track record, what I’m about to say is going to be somewhat shocking. “Just Friends,” the latest cookie cutter rom-com, isn’t a bad movie. In fact, it’s actually pretty damn good. I mean, it’s not an extremely creative movie. It’s not original or innovative or artsy or progressive. It’s not a head-scratcher or a mind-bender, a thought-provoker or a discussion-starter. It’s just plain funny, and that’s all it really needs to make it worth seeing.

Much of the film’s successful humor is owed to the film’s star, the very personable Ryan Reynolds. In his review of fellow Reynolds’ vehicle “Waiting…,” Ty Burr of “The Boston Globe” calls the star “an imitation Jason Lee, who’s himself an imitation of Chevy Chase with the goofball parts left out.” While I will admit Reynolds is something of a one-note comedy wonder — that recently started expanding to two-notes as he and his ripped abs stand around in mediocre action (“Blade: Trinity”) and abysmal horror (“The Amityville Horror”) — but even with his limitations, Reynolds always manages to outshine his lackluster Van Wilder rip-off material. In this case, he doesn’t need to rise above his material because the hackneyed premise is actually pretty smartly written. Reynolds stars as Chris Brander, a brace-faced, overweight high schooler — unfortunately subjecting us to more unfunny fat suit follies — that’s in love with hottie best friend Jamie (an unusually non-obnoxious Amy Smart), a popular girl that’s so nice, she’s got every love-sick unpopular puppy after her. She, though, considers them to be just friends, and when Chris is told of his non-romantic status in her eyes, he sobbingly flees New Jersey to change his image.

Cut ten years in the future and Chris is an insufferable, svelte, music-producing manwhore. By the time this second life begins, he’s clearly your garden-variety asshole. He bounces from between cheap affairs, he ignores every aspect of his old life and he constantly mocks the former flame pop princess he’s saddled with (Anna Faris, doing her best Ashlee Simpson on drugs impression). Serendipitously, the pair’s plane, bound for Paris, gets re-routed to Jersey, forcing Chris to confront his scarring past. It’s a cheap ploy to get the suave Chris to regress and once again embarrass himself in front of Jamie, and it seems director Roger Kumble embraces it. The re-courting period is filled with asinine pratfalls — especially when Chris tries to slaughter a group of 12 year olds at hockey — bland attempts at masturbatory “gross-out” moments and Chris Klein as a rival dorky-turned-desirable, who may alone be enough to suggest a complete lack of effort and innovation.

Kumble, best known for churning out dismal fare like “The Sweetest Thing” and “Cruel Intentions,” just doesn’t seem to know what to do with his better-than-average elements, and there are certainly parts that suffer under his lack of style. When singer Samantha deduces Chris’ intention to hook up with his former friend, she goes on a rampage and starts trying to rumble with Jamie, which leads a disastrous effect on Jamie’s family’s holiday decorations. For a movie that smoothly glides on the formidable talents of Reynolds and Faris, the sequence reeks of a flimsy excuse for a big, fiery climax. Outside of these moments exists a truly funny collection of verbal puns and faulty family relations. Even the should-be-hackneyed high-on-pain-killers comedy of Samantha is good for a bunch of chuckles. Confoundingly, both Reynolds and Faris have continuously been subjected to sub par comedy over their careers — one acted in a show that thought funny was a pizza place, the other was subjected to “Scary Movie 2” and a Rob Schneider movie — despite both always being able to wrestle a laugh out of their work. The direction of “Just Friends” might be a little off, but some superior subtle comedy and a remarkably strong cast have actually managed to prove that even the dumbest premises can elicit a lot of laughs out of the grumpiest film snobs.

Despite my high praise for “Just Friends,” I’m not trying to imply it’s the greatest movie since “Citizen Kane.” It’s not going to be an award-winner, nor does it try to be. It sets out to be pure popcorn entertainment, and in that respect, it does far better than most films in the category. After all, considering some of the crap this cast has pimped themselves for (cough…“Road Trip”…cough), they should be pleased to have finally signed on to something worth our time.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13514&reviewer=401
originally posted: 11/22/05 22:44:15
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User Comments

8/27/20 Suzanne The slapstick and Ryan Reynolds' timing are the only redeeming elements. 3 stars
10/30/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 3 stars
5/17/07 ES Some really funny moments 4 stars
5/06/07 David Pollastrini Not great not terrible 3 stars
4/01/07 Stanley Thai A pretty funny film but feels like a 2 hour movie. 3 stars
11/16/06 Christina A I loved the movie!!I still get a kick out of the whole NSYNC thing..Two thumbs up 5 stars
10/30/06 your worst goddamn nightmare Great lil' film... I thoroughly enjoyed it for laughs... 5 stars
10/29/06 Tara Great movie! it was really funny and original. 5 stars
7/30/06 Nicole Hated it..wished the whole cast would die in the Xmas explosion so the movie could end! 1 stars
7/06/06 Joe I wanted to kill Anna Faris's character. The most annoying performance I've ever seen. 2 stars
3/12/06 Roderick Cromar Better than I expected. Loads of belly-laughs. Faris especially good. 4 stars
2/09/06 chris f reasonable film 4 stars
1/24/06 Kirsten Dunst and Anna Faris fan in deeper mourning Seems Sofia Coppola can direct no promising actress without turning her into a total shrew! 1 stars
1/24/06 Another Anna Faris fan still in mourning Anna Faris's downward spiral reaches point where she'd be more appealing eating her shit! 1 stars
1/24/06 Regina Haniger I totally lost count of the # of points at which this snotfest should have been euthanized! 1 stars
1/15/06 kristian williams its not as bad as your making it out to be its not suposed to be clever 3 stars
12/21/05 tina mateer sort of boring and would not tell any one to go see it 2 stars
12/08/05 Steve Michaud I just love people who grade movies not on cinematic worth but on the "hotness" of its lead 1 stars
11/25/05 amy no matter what ryan looks like he is super dooper freakin' hott 5 stars
11/24/05 Idiot_for_LMP Went kicking and screaming! Worse than I expected!! 1 stars
11/24/05 baseball-nut The film industry has not had a good year....total crap! 1 stars
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  23-Nov-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Mar-2006

  06-Jan-2006 (12A)


Directed by
  Roger Kumble

Written by
  Adam "Tex" Davis

  Ryan Reynolds
  Amy Smart
  Anna Faris
  Chris Klein
  Chris Marquette
  Stephen Root

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