“Leave that cynical bone in the passenger seat and come down some all-you-can-eat syrup” – Clint Morris
Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Chris Klein, Amy Smart, Chris Marquette
A little like a sneaky kid come Christmas Day, there’s not many surprises in store for viewers of Roger Kumble’s new comedy, “Just Friends”, but that’s not to say the gift-wrapped goodies that come your way won’t be still as welcome as they are pleasurable though.
If it were something corporeal under that cellophane, the film would most likely be a giant lollipop – it can get icky, but it’s also very tasty and irrefutably sweet.
Having downed a few dozen protein shakes and done daily reps to embody the part of a muscly action hero in last year’s “Blade Trinity”, Ryan Reynolds – best known prior to the Snipes sequel for his crazy comedies like “Van Wilder” and “Buying the Cow” – caves in to the temptation to let it all hang out here – or rather, let his fat-suit all hang out – as he plays the outermost thing possible from a rippled vampire slayer – a chubby, triple-chinned loser. (The guy seriously has more mixed character turns than a heavily medicated schizophrenic – but power to him).
Again starring in a film that’s ostensibly unconcerned that it’s going to be ravaged by critics – in fact, the guy’s yet to do something that any Academy Member would raise an eyebrow at – Reynolds plays Chris, a grossly overweight but benevolent teenager who’s head over heels in love with his best-friend Jamie (Amy Smart). Needless to say, his decree of worship doesn’t go over well – darn jocks! – and he ends up a blubbering, blushing mess. Faster than you can say – bring on the new title card – he dashes from the town.
Flash forward to Ten years later. Chris is thin, well dressed, well groomed, and flourishing in business. He works as a music promoter, and it’s his job that’s going to inadvertently bring him home to tardily face the music. When his new star client, the oversexed and totally half-baked Samantha James (Anna Faris) fortuitously grounds the companies private plane, Chris is informed they’re an hour away from his hometown. Needless to say, he – and Samantha – head into the squeaky-clean country populace to give everyone a look at ‘the new Chris’. The only person who doesn’t seem too impressed in the cocky well-to-do mach 2, not surprisingly, is Jamie.
“Just Friends” is this year’s “There’s Something About Mary”. I mean that in a good sense and a bad sense. Most of the jokes and characters are a direct facsimile of the Farrelly brother’s zany hit, but at the same time, everyone here is an undeniably entertaining bunch and comfort food’s always welcome when it’s served as warm as it is here. Reynolds is also pretty darn funny at times – he seems to love being in the fat suit – and with Smart, seems to have some saccharine sparks.
Granted, there’s also a bit of social satire at play here, even a couple of indispensable life-lessons (“It’s what’s inside that counts”, “you’re beautiful inside and out”), but most of all, “Just Friends” is just big loud crazy fun. Leave that cynical bone in the passenger seat and come down some all-you-can-eat syrup.
Reviewer : Clint Morris