Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Just Friends

The movie Just Friends, directed by Roger Kumble, proves that you can take the boy out of the small town, but you can't take the small town out of the boy.

The premise in this no-name romantic comedy is that Chris, a big fat boy in high school, professes his love for his longtime friend Jamie in her yearbook, but is only met with a broken heart and degrading humiliation when Jamie's ex-boyfriend Tim reads the passage to everybody at the party. Chris leaves. For 10 years.

We next see Chris as an up-and-coming record producer, explaining how he gets all the lovely ladies he wants. His message to his buddies is, don't fall for the best friend crap. Don't take her out to lunch. In fact, don't do anything during the day. If you fall into that friend role trap, you'll be there forever. He's learned his lesson, stealing girlfriends right and left and leaving them where he found them moments later. He's done such a good job of keeping everybody at a distance that he really has no friends, women or men.

But when his boss tells him to get on contract Brittany Spears-wannabe Samantha James (played deliciously by Anna Faris, she of four Scary Movies), things really get moving when she blows up the microwave in a private jet (using aluminum foil to heat up the salmon), and they're stuck in Jersey, next to Chris' old hometown. The same hometown he hasn't visited in 10 years.

He has never wanted to go home, and yet here he is, and events cleverly laid out show us that he might've shed 100 pounds but he never really left. He meets old love Jamie again, scheming on how to achieve the ultimate revenge. But along the way he falls into instant sibling war with younger brother Mike, as old habits never die. Julie Hagerty plays Chris' Mom, and seems just the same as when she vamped in Airplane! It's the same ditsy, laugh-a-minute Julie, only 30 years older. She's a scream, as is the younger brother who thinks he's died and gone to heaven when Ms. James comes to Smallville.

This is the most hilarious comedy I've seen in ages. I laughed, literally, every few seconds. It's a fast-paced, cleverly written comedy with just the right actors, those who can play physical comedy very well. Ryan Reynolds as Chris is perfect, perfect in a fat suit singing to DeBarge, perfect as the egotistical older Chris, still looking for himself in a thinner body. And he's brilliant at slapstick. His co-star Amy Smart doesn't have much to do here, but she seems nice enough -- it's her job to play straight woman among the many comedians in this cast.

Not many people will go to this small movie because they don't recognize the stars. That would be a big mistake. You think you've seen this movie before when events start to unfold, but you haven't seen THIS one. Thumb's up for Just Friends.


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