|Just Friends (2005)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Stephen Root
Director: Roger Krumble
ALSO! Check out where it ranked in our 2005 Year in Review.
Just when you thought that the holiday movie season would deliver an unrelenting supply of Oscar gold, a romantic comedy like “Just Friends” comes around to slap you in the face; really hard. The timing of the film release isn’t that far off. It’s essentially a Christmas movie opening on Thanksgiving Day, but the last time that happened (see: “Surviving Christmas”), the results weren’t very encouraging. “Surviving Christmas” may have exited theaters quicker than you can say “Gigli,” but there’s a very simple explanation for that: it was a Ben Affleck movie. Ryan Reynolds, on the other hand, is slightly more enjoyable to watch onscreen than that no talent assclown, and fans of the actor should come to expect a lot more than what they get with “Just Friends."
Reynolds plays Chris, a once-fat high school super-nerd with a crush on his best friend Jamie (Amy Smart), the “popular” girl who he sees for the last time at a Yearbook Signing Party before moving cross-country to the West Coast. Flash forward ten years. Chris is now a thin, attractive, and very successful record producer in L.A. who has long forgotten about his high school days, but when his boss (Stephen Root) gives him the task of signing the next big thing, Samantha James (Anna Faris), to their label, he finds himself in more trouble than he could have ever imagined. On the way to Paris with Samantha for the holidays, the plane makes a stop in Chris’ hometown of New Jersey, and after reuniting with his friends and family, decides to try and win over Jamie’s heart one last time.
The usual romantic comedy hijinks ensue, with plenty of slapstick gags and even some competition in the form of Chris Klein, but ultimately, the film fails at showing the audience a good time. Faris is by far the best thing about the movie – something that should never be said about anything she’s in – and Reynolds’ only funny moments appear in the beginning when he’s wearing that fat suit, namely the opening sequence of him singing All 4 One’s “I Swear.” Beyond that, there’s not much from keeping this movie off every critic’s Worst Films of 2005 list, but does that really surprise anyone? The producers would have been smart to figure out a way to keep Reynolds in that fat suit longer, because once he emerged as a new man, the laughs came to a halt.
Director Roger Krumble doesn’t have a very impressive resume, aside from writing gigs on past Farrelly brother films like “Dumb & Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary,” but even those were never actually credited to him. “Just Friends” illustrates this, with a sub-par cast and crew trying to make the next great comedy without any real talent on board. Christmas is just around the corner, and with the holidays comes the buying of expensive gifts for all of your loved ones. Well, here’s one way to save eight bucks for your holiday shopping: don’t see this movie.
When looking at the back cover of the “Just Friends” DVD case, you’ll be surprised to see a long listing of special features, but once you’ve taken the disc for a test drive, it all becomes clear how short and unnecessary a majority of these extras really are. First and foremost is the audio commentary with director Roger Krumble and other various crew members, which sounds more like a poker night with the guys than anything remotely interesting. Other pointless extras include a gag reel, six delete scenes, and a quick look at the production of Red Bulb Records and the creation of The Cheer. The rest of disc is loaded with short behind-the-scenes featurettes that range from the writers talking about the “Friend Zone” to Ryan Reynolds transformation into the fat suit, but far and wide the dumbest feature is “It’s Friggin Cold!,” a behind-the-scenes look at, I kid you not, what it was like working in the cold weather. Sigh.