Despite a few bone-tickling moments, the romantic comedy Just Friends is, well, just OK.
Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds), a smooth L.A. music exec, used to be shy, fat and the butt of jokes back in high school. The only bright spot was his close friendship with Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart), a super-popular cheerleader. He, of course, wanted to be more than just friends, but she just didn't feel the same way. Fast forward to the present, Chris has turned into a calculating ladies man who finds himself back in his hometown. He runs into the lovely Jamie, and the old feelings resurface. He tries to woo her as the new and improved Chris. But unbelievably, Chris finds it even more difficult than ever to escape the clutches of the "friend zone"--or, as Chris describes, "the penalty box of dating, in which a guy becomes a complete nonsexual entity in her eyes, like her brother, or a lamp." Ah, a zone many men have stepped into.
Reynolds' glib sense of humor has brightened some pretty bad films (Blade: Trinity) and even a horror film (The Amityville Horror). But unfortunately, he isn't nearly as effective as the romantic comedy lead. His consistent sardonic delivery soon starts to grate. And while Smart (The Butterfly Effect) is delightfully perky and down to earth as Jamie, there isn't much zing with Reynolds--another big red flag. However, there are some bright spots. Anna Faris (the Scary Movie series) nearly steals the show as a whiny, no-talent pop singer whose diva-esque behavior hits close to home. Also hilarious is Christopher Marquette (The Girl Next Door) as Chris' girl-crazy younger brother. Watching the two brothers slap the spit out of each other is just plain good stuff.
Just Friends actually has a pretty good set-up, which makes it all the more disappointing the film can't completely hold up. Roger Kumble (The Sweetest Thing) just paints by the numbers, never really offering anything new or different. The best parts are the flashbacks to the early '90s, when the overweight Chris is lip-synching "I Swear" in the mirror or writing the 100 reasons why Jamie is such a great girl. It really will take some of us back a bit. But as you sit there mildly laughing at the film's earnest attempts at pure hilarity, you can't help wonder what this film would have been like in the hands of say, the Farrelly brothers. Just Friends could have definitely used some of There's Something About Mary's mean-spiritedness and crude bathroom humor.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.