Splat-onic Relationship

In high school, Chris (Ryan Reynolds) is a weight-challenged dweeb whose BFF is a hot cheerleader named Jamie (Amy Smart) . He secretly likes her but the girl prefers non-fat love interests. When he finally tries to divulge his hush-hush affections, it results in (what else) in embarrassment. Mortified, Chris leaves the girl and his New Jersey hometown heartbroken. Several years later, Chris has morphed into a slimmed-down music producer. He comes back home for the holidays and sees the beautiful Jamie again.

Even if I try to not to divulge much about the plot, this is the kind of premise that predictably writes its own ending. Is there any doubt that Chris and Jamie, who have grown to be best friends and both finally looking attractive, do not end up together? So, in terms of plot, the movie has forced itself to produce nothing but contrived situations to keep the two apart. Hey, it’s a good thing this is a comedy so we don’t have to take it seriously.

But the movie somehow failed me. I just can’t put my finger on what’s wrong. (Well, why should I put my finger on it? That’s just gross). The casting is actually great. Ryan Reynolds is credible as both the fat dork and the hotshot. But the movie treats him like a prop, always tossed in supposedly humorous and accidental situations. At least, Reynolds, who’s all bottled up in frustrated charisma, sometimes pulls through. Amy Smart is also capable in the role but come on, she can be more than being “the girl.” There should be more sadness to her as “the girl who peaked in high school” and maybe it’d be more interesting if she became ugly and fat. The movie overlooks the fact that she is really shallow. In the end, it could be argued that she doesn’t even deserve Chris, simply because Chris suffered more than she did.

Well, my favorite performance comes from Anna Faris, who easily steals the spotlight as Samantha, a pop star wannabe. (Oh my bad. Samantha doesn’t want to be known as a pop act. She calls herself an artist, an artist soon to have her own reality show in MTV!) Faris is superbly ludicrous. It’s an act that could’ve grown annoying but she leaves you wanting more. Another delight is Christopher Marquette, who plays Chris’ horned younger brother. I’ve seen this actor in “Joan of Arcadia” where he played a sensitive and artsy guy, but oh boy, I wasn’t prepared when he tickled me with his funny performance.

Hmmm – I guess what’s wrong with “Just Friends” is that it’s not “Wedding Crashers.” Both comedies depended on sophomoric scenes for laughs. But “Wedding Crashers” executed them with effortless appeal, while “Just Friends” seems like it’s trying. If these movies were people and I’d have to pick between them, I’d hooked up with “Wedding Crashers” and “Just Friends” will remain just a friend.

Grade: C+

Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Amy Smart, Christopher Marquette, Julie Haggarty, Stephen Root, and Fred Ewanuick
Screenplay by
Adam ‘Tex’ Davis
Directed by
Roger Kumble
Rated PG-13 for sexual content including some dialogue