REVIEW: Just Friends (Roger Kumble, 2005)

Chris Brander, widely classified as a dweeb in high school, has shaped up over the past ten years and become a major record executive with a glamorous life. When he mistakenly returns to his hometown, he runs into his old best friend, Jamie Palimino, and the strong crush he's harbored for her resurfaces. Many obstacles stand in his way to love, though - competing men, a pesky ex and the dreaded "friend zone." Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris and Chris Klein join up for a youthful romantic comedy under the helming of Sweetest Thing director Roger Kumble.

I've loved The Sweetest Thing for years. The cast of that film clearly lauded Kumble's efforts there, but I was still wary that while he did do very well, he wouldn't have a film worth watching without the excellent screenplay writing of Nancy Pimentel. Just Friends thankfully proves me wrong, but not to a vast extent. It's a very passable experience worth watching, but it's no diamond in the rough.

Beyond the acting, which is consistent with the cast members' respective filmographies while also being uniquely funny, the effort that was possibly exerted in the entire production, pre- and post- included, is somewhat questionable. The supporting characters are annoyingly over-the-top caricatures, the majority of the jokes fall flat on their prosthetic-enhanced faces, the sound mixing is downright awful... yet there is something that somehow clicks about this comedy that makes it flow. Compared to movies like Two Weeks Notice that are burdened with cliche, Just Friends blends the predictability of its genre with an irreverent cartoon style that I, for one, was engaged with.

As mentioned before and is worth mentioning again, the cast really takes this movie to a different level than it probably deserves while also serving as delicious eye candy for those interested. Ryan Reynolds has quickly become a reliable comic actor with his off-beat timing. Here, his quips joust and mesh perfectly with the off-the-wall acting of underestimated beauty Anna Faris, featured here in possibly her craziest role yet. I have never been keen on Amy Smart, but she succeeded in winning me over the instant she stepped on screen - a worthy romantic interest. I've also never been so hot about Chris Klein (except for those five minutes in which I thought I liked the Rollerball remake) and I'm still not, but he pulled off a great jackass. Even the young Christopher Marquette gives an impressive comedic performance.

If you want to support your happy mood or you need a pick-me-up, Just Friends is a live-action cartoon to cozy up to with a warm blanket and some hot cocoa. You're sure to enjoy at least some portion of it, and you won't be bored. Make it a day-date.

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