The Barenaked Archives – Just Friends

From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies.

The Barenaked Archives are reviews that I did for two previous websites. Sadly, they are both gone, so this is now the only place online you can see these old columns.

Just FriendsI believe it was Harry in When Harry Met Sally who said, “Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part gets in the way.” It’s true, to an extent. Just about every male/female friendship probably started out with one party being physically attracted to the other party and desiring to date them.

Now, for a variety of reasons (but most likely the other party didn’t reciprocate the attraction) this dating doesn’t pan out, and now they are “just friends,” as it goes. Whether or not both parties want to remain “just friends” is another story entirely, and the answer to that question has probably destroyed many a friendship.

I’m sure that most of us have been on both sides of this equation, and it’s been dealt with in books, movies, and television shows. The latest movie entering the fray is Just Friends, starring Ryan Reynolds and Amy Smart and throwing in a holiday setting appropriate for its release date. While it’s covering well-worn territory and is relatively forgettable, it’s still a mindlessly funny movie.

In high school, Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) was an overweight geek desperately in love with his best friend Jamie (Amy Smart). When he tried to tell her that he loved her and got humiliated, he ran off.

Ten years later, Chris is a high-powered music executive and a heartbreaking ladies’ man, but still bitter about the one that got away. When he and a ditzy client (Anna Faris) accidentally wind up in his hometown for the holidays, Chris may finally get his chance with Jamie.

The biggest reason to see this movie, hands down, is Ryan Reynolds. I think I was one of five people who actually watched the TV show “Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place,” and his character, Berg, was consistently one of the funniest, and probably the only real reason to watch the show.

Here Reynolds has a chance to be a jerk, a nice guy, a fat guy, and a hottie all in one movie, and he’s hilarious. He’s definitely funniest when he’s being a jerk, of course, but you can’t help but like him anyway.

Amy Smart doesn’t really get all that much to do; she’s just the pretty girl from high school and the “straight” person in the comedy. Anna Faris seems to have more fun as some weird combination of every barely-talented bottle-blond pop princess currently forcing herself upon us, but there are times when she really starts to grate on your nerves.

Chris Klein is also pretty entertaining as Chris’s chief rival for Jamie’s affection (or so he thinks), a guy who seems too nice to be true. But after the main characters, nobody else really makes any sort of memorable imprint.

The story is predictable and only so-so, as one can expect, which is a shame. It’s still funny, but you get the feeling at points that it could’ve been something more original.

The pacing at the ending is also really weird, like they realized they’d wrapped up too much too soon, and had to go back and add and stretch and get it around to the usual ending that we’re all expecting. I wanted to throw something at the movie and tell them to get on with it already.

For what it is, Just Friends isn’t half-bad. It’s not quite funny enough to completely outweigh the mediocre retread of a story, but it’s certainly not terrible enough to pray for heavenly blinding halfway through. Just don’t pay full price for it.

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