Just Friends

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1995, Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) is an obese, curly-haired high school student with a lisp, braces, and a “gentle giant” demeanor. He attends the graduation party of his best friend, Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart), on whom he secretly has a crush. He plans to confess his feelings by writing them in Jamie’s yearbook. When Chris tries to return Jamie’s yearbook, it is taken by her despicable ex-boyfriend, Tim (Ty Olsson). Tim reads Chris’s confession aloud at the party wherein Chris is publicly humiliated. He is further demoralized when Jamie doesn’t reciprocate his feelings. Chris receives a kiss on the cheek from Jamie and is told that they are like brother and sister. When the mob of partygoers burst out of the house again, Jamie admonishes them for making fun of Chris. Chris leaves on his bicycle tearfully and vows to leave town and never return in order to achieve greater success than his classmates.

Ten years later, Chris has lost weight, is handsome and is a highly successful Los Angeles record producer. He is also a womanizer. Prior to Christmas, Chris’ boss, KC (Stephen Root), orders Chris to accompany an emerging, self-obsessed pop singer called Samantha James (Anna Faris) to Paris. KC wants Chris to ensure Samantha signs with him. Chris sees difficulties in this but follows orders. During the trip to Paris, Samantha sets her private jet on fire by using aluminum foil in the plane’s microwave oven. This necessitates an emergency landing in New Jersey, near Chris’s hometown. Chris takes the singer to his mother’s house for a place to spend the night and re-engages with his teenage past, including his unresolved feelings for Jamie. At the local bar, Chris encounters some old classmates, including Tim, who is now balding, fat and a heavy drinker. Jamie also appears, working as a bartender to support herself through graduate school. Chris plans to impress and seduce Jamie. However, a number of unexpected problems, including a growing realization that Jamie’s friendship is important to him, hamper Chris’ plan. Chris bonds with Jamie on several occasions and during a friendly ice skating “day date”, Chris is taken away in an ambulance after being injured in a game of hockey. Jamie is reunited with Dusty Dinkleman (Chris Klein), a paramedic and former high school nerd who was also in love with her.

Prior to his date, Chris had left his younger brother, Mike (Christopher Marquette), to spend time with Samantha. Samantha eventually pushes Mike against the bathroom wall to find out Chris’ location and, following initial resistance, Samantha, knowing Mike’s strong feelings towards her, passionately kisses him, resulting in the brother’s disclosure (thinking that Chris and Jamie have had sex already, Mike uses the term “lover”). Samantha consequently becomes jealous towards Jamie, believing that the old classmates are in a relationship, and in an angry rage, Samantha destroys Jamie’s family’s Christmas decorations. Embarrassed by Samantha’s actions, Chris returns home but is visited by Jamie there. Jamie reveals that she is not mad at Chris and plans to spend the night with him; but, due to Chris’ continuing lack of assertion, the two end up falling asleep and no romance ensues.

The day after Samantha’s vandalism, Jamie speaks with Darla (Amy Matysio), who is now married to Clark (Fred Ewanuick), about the night before and her fear that Chris lack of affection might mean that he doesn’t like her. Jamie admits that whilst the two are “just friends”, she tried to “put herself out there” to Chris, to show Chris that she is interested in a relationship. Meanwhile, Chris attends Clark’s workplace, a dental surgery, to talk to Clark, revealing to him that “the timing wasn’t right” and that their shared history hinders his willingness to have sex with her. Chris explains that he feels like he is in high school again.

Later, Chris and Clark catch Dusty singing to a sexy nurse and then kissing her. Dusty then reveals to Chris and Clark that he only plans to have sex with Jamie, as he wants to humiliate her in the same way that he felt she used to humiliate him. Chris tries to warn Jamie about Dusty during a children’s Christmas pageant, but instead ends up attacking Dusty and ruining the play. Jamie refuses to listen when Chris tries to tell her about the nurse, leaving Chris angry and disappointed with both Jamie and her family. Chris consequently gets drunk and enters the bar where Jamie works, proceeding to blame her for keeping him in the “friend zone”; he also exclaims that Jamie will never amount to anything meaningful. Jamie punches Chris and he is tossed out of the bar at her request.

Upon returning to LA, Chris realizes that Jamie is his one true love interest and returns to New Jersey hoping to finally be with her. Chris declares his true love for Jamie at her house and the two kiss outside in view of the neighborhood kids

REVIEW:

Look at Ryan Reynolds today. Does he look like someone who was ever overweight and/or nerdy? Let alone had any trouble picking up girls? I don’t know if he was anything like his character in Just Friends, but I am very appreciative that this film was made, as I can totally relate.

What is this about?

After being snubbed by his high school crush, an overweight nice guy moves to Los Angeles, where he slims down and blossoms into a womanizer. But when he’s stranded in his hometown, he bumps into the girl who once broke his heart.

What did I like?

The zone. Unless you were one of those guys that was a teen heartthrob and/or you were superjock, chances are that you had a few crushes, many of which didn’t even know you existed. Hell, some of them to this very day, don’t know I exist. If this film accomplishes anything, it is that it brings attention to the fact that girls push aside the sweet guy who would do anything for them and make them a pseudo-gal pal, in favor of the guy who will trample all over their heart and leave them a shell of their former selves. Not that I’ve had any experience with this subject, mind you. It is still good to know that this is a phenomena that occurs everywhere.

Brittany. So, Anna Faris was tapped to play this Brittany Spears-like character and she knocks it out of the park. First of all, it should be noted that this was made in 2005, which was around the time of Spears’ “meltdown”. Faris, who is comedic gold, steals the show with her diva like behavior and overactive sex drive. I was wishing for more!

Revenge. The sheer thought of getting revenge on the females who spurned my affections is quite thought-provoking. I can’t help but say that I would get immense pleasure out of seeing them reap what they sowed. I know that sounds vindictive, but  this is something that need. Chris Klein’s character, which is a departure from his normal schtick, has it right, if you ask me!

What didn’t I like?

Fat suit. I was telling my friend, Alyse, about this film and just happened to mention that it has Ryan Reynolds in a fat suit. As you can see in the poster up there, Reynold’s suit is not very  well crafted. On top of that, I just have a hard time believe that Reynolds was this fat guy who turns into a handsome guy. It all seems to Cinderella-ish to me. If they wanted to do that, then they should have gone all out with the Cinderella angle. There is even a moment where he is asked how he los the weight, but he never answers. I’m curious, too, it could be some weight loss surgery is the reason or it could be old-fashioned diet and exercise. Who knows?

Change. Being from a small town, myself, I know how rare it is for anyone to leave and make a name for themselves while everyone else stays home and works at the mom and pop store. My issue is this. 10 yrs pass from the beginning of the film to when Reynolds returns, and yet everyone looks exactly the same, except for him, another geek (Chris Klein), and the jock/bully. The object of his desire, played by Amy Smart (I still was expecting Jason Statham to crashing through the window and use her to get his heart pumping again). < Crank reference. seemed to have gotten hotter!!!

Incomplete. I wasn’t going to mention this, but I have to. My disc from Netflix decided to start acting all wonky and I wasn’t able to repair it to watch the final scenes. It was doing the same thing upon my initial starting of the disc. I really hate it when I get a disc that works, but doesn’t work. Irritations ratcheted up to a maximum level! UGH!!!!

As a pure romantic comedy, Just Friends is one of the lesser ones that I’ve seen, but nowhere near as ad as some of the ones that I have the “pleasure” of viewing. The fact is, this is not a good film, but it does have moment that will keep it in your memories for a day or two, but on the whole, this is sure to cause some conversations among you and your friends from high school about why your friendship was the way it was. I know there are a few that I need to ask about. I can’t recommend this, but I won’t dissuade you from seeking it out, either.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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