Christmas Review: Just Friends
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, and Chris Klein
Plot: Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds), a former obese teenager turned handsome womanizer, comes home for Christmas and gets a second chance with his highschool crush.
Just Friends hangs its hat on the idea that in order to get an attractive girlfriend, you need to be an insufferable jerk or else you will be stuck in the friend zone. The cynic in me wants to agree, while the romantic in me fights back. Regardless, it is a stock premise for plenty of romantic comedies and sitcom episodes. It is just too bad the movie forgets to be romantic or funny
Where the romance should be is substituted with some kind of highschool vendetta to “soil” the girl who refused to sleep with him. Chris tries to woo her, but whatever romantic, chivalrous intentions he once had are now gone making for a protagonist devoid of any empathy. What makes it worse is Amy Smart is as adorable as usual, even when turning down Fat Chris, so we are given no reason to root for her downfall at the hands of Chris. Although, there is some ambiguity entered into the movie. While Chris keeps saying he cannot wait to bed her, it seems to be just a front for his true feelings.
It is also not that funny. It is the lowest of low brow humor. It leans pretty much every laugh on bad slapstick and gratuitous language. Chris suffers the worst Pavlovian response ever when returning home and trying to get his old crush back, he slides back into the clumsy, awkward geek he was in highshcool rather than the suave charmer he has grown into. He runs a gauntlet of every possible embarrassment you could throw at someone in order to ruin a budding romance. As a result, it becomes a very predictable comedy of errors. It is coupled with profanity laced one-liners usually with some kind of sexual connotation. It puts all its eggs into the basket that the audience will simply laugh at hearing the words rather than writing or delivering them with any cleverness.
I can only think the Christmas setting is for irony. The season is usually marked with generosity, selflessness, and good-will, yet those things are completely missing from this movie. It is almost accidentally a brilliant metaphor for what Christmas has become with the over-commercialization of the holiday where constant one-upping is motivated by ego instead of humility.
ONE out of TEN