Manic energy and an agreeable level of comic insanity turn Just Friends
into the kind of brainless comedy you can enjoy as a modest guilty pleasure. If you liked director Roger Kumble's previous comedy The Sweetest Thing
(and let's face it, that movie had some really
funny moments), chances are you'll get at least a few solid belly-laughs from this not-so-high-concept premise, in which a formerly fat high-schooler named Chris (Ryan Reynolds) is transformed, ten years later, into a womanizing music executive with a high-profile client (Anna Faris) in the Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera mold.
As it zips along with some broad-stroked slapstick and snappy one-liners, the screenplay by Adam Tex Davis contrives to reunite Chris with Jamie (Amy Smart), the former cheerleader who was the great, unrequited love of Chris' miserable high-school life. By his narcissistic logic, he'll seduce her by treating her badly (i.e. she'll want what she thinks she can't have), but he gets unexpected competition in the form of a "Mr. Sensitive" type (Chris Klein, from American Pie), and it's pretty much Hollywood formula from there on, as Just Friends loses momentum without losing its basic appeal. And while Reynolds invests his character with an unexpected degree of emotional nuance, Faris (Scary Movie 3) pulls out all the stops, going deliriously over-the-top to maintain her reputation as a rising comedy starlet with a (hopefully) promising future. We're not talking rocket science here, folks... just sit back, take off your thinking cap, and have some fun. --Jeff Shannon